Ex-Spanish international Raúl González has announced his decision to leave FC Schalke 04, "a club always in my heart", for a destination outside Europe at the end of the season.
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Striker Raúl González will leave FC Schalke 04 for a club outside Europe at the end of the season.
Raúl has enjoyed two successful years in Gelsenkirchen since ending his 16-season spell with Real Madrid CF to join Schalke in summer 2010 – scoring 27 goals in 64 Bundesliga games and winning the 2011 German Cup. However, the 34-year-old former Spanish international will move on to pastures new when his contract expires in June.
"The decision has not been easy, but I thought about it for a long time," said Raúl at a media conference on Thursday. "My future is not in Europe. I still have enough confidence to play in the Bundesliga, but to me it's important that I spend more time with my family.
"I would like to thank the fans and the club. They ensured that I always felt at home here. I had two wonderful years at Schalke and will always keep them in my heart. The club is and was part of my life. I will always look forward to a return if I am needed."
Still Madrid's record scorer with 323 goals, Raúl's stay in Gelsenkirchen may have been far shorter but he nevertheless made a sizeable impact. General manager Horst Heldt said: "We had two perfect years with Raúl and it was a wonderful and successful time. Within such a short period he shaped the club and the team. That's why it's very sad he made this decision."
Coach Huub Stevens added: "It is very sad but I have a lot of respect for the manner in which he made his decision and how he communicated it to the players. I can only take my hat off to such a team player."