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ESPN FC Posted by ESPN staff
Aug 23, 2013

Raul 'grateful' for Real Madrid tribute

Former Real Madrid striker Raul admits the Bernabeu Trophy match between his Qatari club Al-Sadd and the Spanish giants evoked memories of his Los Blancos debut against Atletico Madrid almost 20 years ago.

Real Madrid paid tribute to Real during the Bernabeu Trophy clash.
Raul scored the opener for Real Madrid.

Real claimed a convincing 5-0 win in the match, which acted as a tribute to Madrid legend Raul, with the Spaniard scoring the first goal for Carlo Ancelotti's side before playing the second half in Al-Sadd colours.

Raul donned the number 7 jersey he made famous at the Bernabeu for the first 45 minutes, before handing it back to Cristiano Ronaldo at half-time and the 36-year-old was moved by the reception he received.

"There were a lot of small details in the match. Cristiano giving me his shirt, Casillas his armband... everyone has made me feel welcome," Raul said. "Thanks to the club, to the coaching staff that have made me feel like one of them. 

"I had similar feelings in my debut against Atletico here in the Bernabeu. I enjoyed it, there was a lot of participation. That His Majesty was here was a big surprise and it is a source of pride that the King of Spain was here. I will be eternally grateful, it was very special.

"For many years I defended this shirt with all my heart and I felt all the affection and I feel indebted. I would not change anything that has happened and it has been shown that it was worth the wait and that it is my home.

"Everything comes around. The fans have enjoyed it and the Real Madrid faithful now have to be united to achieve the objectives. A new project is starting and I hope that fans come to support and that everyone gives 100%."

Raul also reiterated his support of goalkeeper Iker Casillas, who continues to face stiff competition from Diego Lopez, while insisting the expected arrival of Gareth Bale will not reduce Cristiano Ronaldo's importance at Real.

"Iker is a great professional and team-mate and is experiencing something new, but with hard work and effort he will be back helping Real Madrid to achieve their objectives," he added.

"Cristiano is the present and future of Real Madrid, and I'm sure he'll continue to be so. If the Bale thing doesn't happen, I'll cost much less."

Real youngster Jese scored a brace in his side's win and Raul has backed the winger to rise above the competition at the Bernabeu.

"I give up my shirt to the future of the academy, although there are many more, they are going to push to move this thing forward," he said. "They have to put on pressure because there are no friendlies at Real Madrid. It is Jese's first year and it will be tough, but he will certainly have opportunities and will do very well, like Morata, Nacho."

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