The glory belonged to another, but the night belonged to Raul Gonzalez.
The former Real Madrid and Spain striker Raul Gonzalez bowed out of football with a final trophy as the New York Cosmos clinched the North American Soccer League.
“I’m happy but, to be honest, I’m also a little bit sad,” he said. “Now a new path begins.”
A glittering career ended at the age of 38 before 10,166 spectators on an artificial pitch marked by lacrosse lines on the Long Island suburb of Hempstead – a far cry from the Bernabeu in Madrid, where he spent 16 years.
Raul did not score in a 3-2 victory over Ottawa Fury in the second-tier league, but provided the pass for the last goal by hat-trick hero Gaston Cellerino.
“Today was my last game to finish my career, and I’m very proud of everything I did,” he said.
“I’ve been lucky enough to play in World Cups, Euro Cups, Champions League, and to win them, but this is soccer to me. To play on artificial turf, in front of crowds, in front of no one.”
Raul has now won at least one trophy at all four stations of a playing career, which also included spells at Schalke in Germany and Qatar’s Al-Sadd.
At Real, he won six Spanish league titles, four Spanish Super Cups and three Champions League titles.
After “an incredible year here with my team-mates at Cosmos,” Raul intends to stay with his family in New York. He says he has no exact plans.
A return to Real, where he scored 323 goals, is not on the cards right now. He knows though that the doors will always be open. GNA