The New York Cosmos have signed the legendary Spanish striker who is coming out of retirement to play for the club made famous by Brazilian legend Pele.
The New York Cosmos of the North American Soccer League have signed legendary Spanish striker Raul Gonzalez Blanco to a multi-year contract, the club announced on Thursday.
The former Real Madrid star joins the club made famous by Brazilian star Pele during the 1970s. He is also set to take on the role of technical adviser to the club’s soon-to-be opened youth academy, which he will oversee on a full-time basis upon his retirement.
“Everyone throughout the soccer world knows the Cosmos name and the legacy of the players that played for this team previously,” Raúl said in a statement issued by the club. “They helped establish soccer in America and I’m honored to follow in their footsteps. I believe in this club’s vision and I’m excited to be a part of that.”
The Real Madrid legend had retired from professional soccer after spending two years in Qatar playing for Al Saad. Prior to that, Raul spent two years playing for German Bundesliga side Schalke 04 after leaving Real Madrid.
Raul, 37, joins a Cosmos side that won the NASL title in 2013 and has qualified for the NASL playoffs this year. He will join a squad that features former Spanish national team teammate Marco Senna, who helped guide the Cosmos to the NASL title a year ago.
The Cosmos returned to action in 2013 after nearly 30 years of inactivity and have already made waves in their first two years back in business, making Senna the most high-profile signing of the current NASL set up. They have now set the bar even higher with the addition of the leading goal scorer in UEFA Champions League history.
“We’re obviously thrilled to add a player of his quality to the team,” head coach Giovanni Savarese said. “Raúl’s skill and ability is world renowned. He’s a world-class player and he adds a whole new dimension to our attack.
“He also brings immense passion and knowledge that he can share with our team and with the next generation of Cosmos players in our youth academy. He’ll help set the academy training curriculum, structure and establish our player development pyramid.”
The Cosmos Youth Academy is slated to open in 2015, with Raul signing on to take a leadership role with the academy upon his retirement.