October 29th marked the 20th anniversary of Raul Gonzalez’s official debut with Real Madrid. The Spaniard played his first La Liga match at La Romareda in which Los Blancos lost 3-2 to Zaragoza.
It was a surprise that Raul was included in the squad to make that trip, since he was only 17 years old and had only made two first-team appearances, in two friendly games against Oviedo and Karlsruhe. “I didn’t expect it. I don’t know what the reason is for this, but it’s what I have always dreamt of,” the player told Spanish newspaper El Pais back then.
“I’m just going to try to enjoy. If I don’t, Valdano will not like it,” he added.
Jorge Valdano, Real Madrid’s manager at that time, explained in a press conference his motives to pick Raul: “I like his playing style, and I get captivated very easily.”
“I told him to leave his instincts free and play normally. Not to examine every little thing that happens during the game. I believe he will take all this situation very naturally,” Valdano added.
Despite not having a great performance at La Romareda –in fact he missed a glittering opportunity to score– Valdano praised Raul after the game: “He was the best player of our attack. He assisted Zamorano in the goal, created three goal chances from nothing and led the most dangerous attacks. He missed the target, but it was an encouraging start. We would have liked that he has scored in his debut, but none of our players were inspired today.”
Valdano really meant what he said, and he continued trusting young Raul. The number 7 did the rest and ended up becoming one of the club’s biggest legends.