Raul says farewell to Real Madrid

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The Independent Football

Raul has bid farewell to Real Madrid following 16 years at the Santiago Bernabeu, but says he will always remain loyal to the club which gave him his chance as a 17-year-old.

The Madrid captain was a key part of one of the club's most successful sides ever, winning three Champions League trophies and 16 titles in total, but was only a bit-part player last season and has decided to end his career elsewhere.

"It's a hard day for me," he said at a press conference today.

"I feel like a footballer still and I will keep on playing, but I will always be loyal to Real Madrid. I have tried to give everything in my time here."

Raul is expected to sign for Bundesliga club Schalke and the striker says the time is right for a new challenge.

"A new period starts today," he said.

"I have been happy at Real Madrid and I will always be willing to help the club in whatever it needs."

Madrid president Florentino Perez also paid tribute to the departing idol.

"We will never forget Raul," he said.

"There are many men who form part of the legend of Real Madrid, but few that are chosen to embody the club - Raul is one of those."

Raul scored 323 goals in 741 games for Real Madrid, as well as 44 in 102 appearances for Spain.

His departure follows that of midfielder Guti, who had spent just a year less than Raul (15) in the first team.