Real Madrid CF captain Raúl González further etched his name into the annals of European football against Arsenal FC last night after becoming the first player to make 100 UEFA Champions League appearances.
The Spain striker came on in the 63rd minute of the 1-0 defeat at the Santiago Bernabéu, becoming the first player in the competition's history to complete a century of games. Still only 29, Raúl's name is indelibly linked with the UEFA Champions League, having scored an incredible 51 goals in Europe's premier club competition. Two of those came in finals, against Spanish rivals Valencia CF in 2000 and Bayer 04 Leverkusen two years later.
Madrid went on to win both, and Raúl has currently got three winners' medals, as the side had also triumphed in 1998. He made his UEFA Champions League debut against AFC Ajax in 1995, and although the Spanish side lost against the then holders, he has since savoured much success. A hat-trick in only his third game against Ferencvárosi TC set the tone and the fact that he has started 98 of his 100 appearances to date further underlines his importance.
Raúl played four time in the group stage this season before a serious knee injury ruled him out for three months, although he returned to action as a substitute in Saturday's 3-0 victory against Deportivo Alavés. He may not stand alone for long as a century maker as team-mates Roberto Carlos (98 appearances) and David Beckham (96) could join him this season - but will need Madrid to win at Highbury in a fortnight to do so.
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