?Real Madrid and Spain legend Raul Gonzalez spoke about his upbringing, playing football at grassroots level and respecting the values of the sport while being UEFA’s guest at its Grassroots Conference in Minsk.
The striker is revered as one of the best of his generation, scoring over 400 goals in 940 career appearances and winning countless club and personal honours across a glittering career.
A player world-renowned for his scoring exploits, Raul pointed to his love and passion for the sport as a key feature in his unwavering success as a player. Speaking at UEFA’s event, to UEFA’s head of football education services Frank Ludolph, the Spaniard pointed at the differences in grassroots football, stating times were very different from his early days on the streets of Madrid.
“There were no football schools, people would play in the parks and streets, at school during breaks, and in the playground, then you’d go out and play with friends,” he said at the ?conference.
“We always had a football at home. Until I was 11, my football education was with friends on the street. If I didn’t have friends to play with on any occasion, I’d kick a ball against the wall. The wall was my best friend. If I managed a good shot, the ball would come back to me, if it was a bad shot, I would have to go and fetch the ball.”
Addressing the issue of values within the game, the three-time ?Champions League winner with ?Madrid stated football offers a platform from which values can be learnt, and importantly, stay true to.
“I tried to live the values that I had learned at an early stage. I’ve certainly been passionate about what I do, but I try to respect others – football gave me that,” he added. “Respect is part of my being. You have to be connected with your own values… and I will always try to be connected with things that I think are good in football, and try to leave aside what is negative.”