Raúl, a gentleman of fair play

The captain hasn't been booked in two and a half years

Raúl hasn't been booked since he pushed a Valencia player on 23 October 2004. The captain, a true gentleman of fair play, has embodied the utmost sportsman behaviour for the last 30 months, without giving up his competitive character and fighting spirit.

On Saturday, Raúl played a match againts Valencia officiated by referee Pérez Lasa. The last time Raúl was booked he played against the same side in a match officiated by the same man. Two days prior to the game, after the act that commemorated the Foundation's X Anniversary, the captain talked to Realmadrid.com about this strange coincidence. Raúl has always been interested in figures and stats -he knew Saturday's was going to be his 600th official game-, but these didn't change his attitude against Valencia. He led his team with his usual drive and guts, fighting hard to get control of the ball, always showcasing his sportsmanship, now an integral part of his game.

The captain's personal record was compromised only once during Saturday's fixture. The referee awarded a free kick to Valencia in extra time. This was surely going to be the last chance for the visiting side to score an equaliser. Raúl placed himself in front of the ball to act as a one-man wall and Valencia's Miguel complained to him because he was too close to the ball. The full-back, hoping to gain some time, pushed Raúl, who immediately hit the ground. Referee Pérez Lasa approached both players and for a moment it seemed he would book the captain for diving. Nevertheless, he correctly settled the whole situation and Raúl positioned himself where the official told him to stand. The play wasn't threatening enough in the end and the Whites managed to defeat Valencia.

||El capitán del Real Madrid lleva más de 30 meses sin recibir una cartulina amarilla. En 13 temporadas, sólo ha visto 19, y ninguna expulsión.||
Raúl was the last player to leave the Madridista dressing room after the fixture. Happy with the victory, he talked to Realmadrid.com about the controversial play. "I didn't deserve to be booked for that and I wasn't worried about it," he said, "The most important thing tonight was to win the game."

Raúl hasn't been booked in 30 months, but this is but a mere figure in his career. He has only been booked 19 times in the 13 seasons he has played in the First Division. On average, he has been booked every 23 games out of a total of 439, and every 1,910 minutes out of a total of 36,290. The captain has never been suspended. The largest number of bookings he's ever seen in one season has been four (1995/96). He was booked three times in the 2000/01 season. Since the 2002/03 edition of the League, he has been booked once per season, if at all. Since the 2004/05 season he hasn't been booked at all. His goal scoring figures are equally impressive. He has netted 185 goals with Real Madrid, holding an average of one goal every two games.

Cargando imágenes . . .

Raúl is the Gentleman of fair play, a title he inherited from Emilio Butragueño, as well as inheriting his number '7', which he proudly wears on his shirt. Both players have been regarded as gentlemen in world football for their incredible sportsmanship.

Raúl has never been sent off during a game as a professional. In fact, he's only seen a red card once in his life, as a youth, on 9 February 1994 against Alcalá Juvenil. Between 1992 and 1994, he only saw one yellow card. He joined the first team in 1994.

Raúl's style has set an example for many kids and he is the role model of every youth system player at Real Madrid. They all study his quality, how easily he wins his position, his personality on the pitch, his determination, his fighting spirit, the sacrifices he makes for the team... From now on, future generations of football players will also have to study his unequalled sportsmanship. Raúl's figures speak for themselves, but his modesty makes him prefer to hear about collective figures. Generous as always, he prefers to do things for the good of the team.

Report by Javier Palomino
Photography: Realmadrid.com
Translation by Michael J. O'Donnell

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