REAL MADRID

Raúl blasted his players for disrespecting Navalcarnero fans: "You have no right to humiliate working people"

Jorge Valdano remembered Raúl as a young player, praised his working methods and spoke about his attempts to sign Eric Cantona for Real Madrid.

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Raúl blasted his players for disrespecting Navalcarnero fans: "You have no right to humiliate working people"

Jorge Valdano gave an interview to La Galerna, in which he expressed his great admiration for Raúl González both as a player and now as a coach. Valdano feels sure that the former Madrid No.7 will become "one of the best coaches in football history". He also gave an anecdote, revealing how Raúl tore a strip off his Castilla players for the disrespectful way in which they celebrated a win over third tier opponents Navalcarnero in front of the home fans...

Raúl: "He's the most intelligent player I have ever seen on a football pitch. It was sight in itself to watch Raúl looking for ways to turn games around, and by that, I mean the opposition, the rival fans, the referee... everything. He converted  the idea about Madrid into a tangible, physical thing. I said to my fiends: 'If ever there is a war one day, Raúl will go into it with Madrid's flag'".

The day when Valdano discovered Raúl: "I was back in Spain from Tenerife to watch an Under-19s game. Raúl came on for the last 15 minutes, and he really surprised me a lot. I said to Ramón Martínez: 'And that little spermatozoon, who is he?'. He was 16 years old. He was quite small but electric. He just didn't stop. He didn't really stand out for anything in particular, but his movement was incredible. I found him funny to watch. A short while later, by which time I had joined Madrid, I was asked whether I remembered him. 'Of course I did', I replied, 'You don't forget a player like that'. 'He wants to go back to Atleti', they told me. At that time I wanted to get rid of Zamorano. I met up with Raúl and convinced him to forget about going to Atleti, which was more his father's idea than his own. In his autobiography, he wrote that my words were like music to his ears. He stopping thinking about leaving. It was instinctive. You are won over by a player who is always looking for the ball, and for his courage. Right from the start he had an almost insolence about him".

What was Raúl like out on the pitch in the early days? "In one training session, a veteran player gave him a kick which was out of order. He got up, asked for the ball again and squared up to the same player. It was as if to say: 'This is how frightened I am of you'. He has a lot of personality. He was always incredible at swaying the refs. 'Ref, that was a penalty, but don't worry, I'll help you'. And in the next move: 'How's it going ref? Are you ok?'. That was how he manipulated the referee. I'd never seen anything like it. He never got sent off. As I say, intelligence above the rest".

Raúl, the coach: "He doesn't need to speak to get his message across to the players. He's going to be one of the best coaches in the history of football. He transmits his ideas with the same demands he puts on himself. He has something inherent in all great coaches. Guardiola, Mourinho, Simeone... they all have it, an unstoppable energy. He is thinking about the 300 players coming through the youth teams. I have a lot of faith in him as a coach".

Raúl's Castilla: "I don't know whether Madrid believe in him as much as I do. But let me say one thing. Raúl is in charge of the youngest squad Castilla have ever had. He's taking kids who are 17 years and trning them into men in six months. He took Miguel Gutiérrez and turned him into a man. Antonio Blanco, the same. Marvin... He's made men out of many young players by being extremely demanding. Getting those values through to today's young players is getting more and more difficult, but Raúl is doing that. Last year, his team won away at Navalcarnero in the final minute, and one Castilla player made a very ugly gesture directed at the home fans. A Navalcarnero official told me: 'I already had great admiration for Raúl, but after hearing him berating his players for that incident, he is like a god for me. He told them that, with a little less luck, they too could easily be playing for Navalcarnero in a few years' time, and that they have absolutely no right to mock or humiliate working people'".

Mbappé: "From what we have been seeing, I don't even think Mbappé's own mother understands him. It's a situation with a lot of different interests in play - economic, political and purely football interests, because at any point, Mbappé and Messi could suddenly click, and instead of scoring 30 goals, Mbappé might score 50, in which case it would be much harder to prise him away. Anything could happen with Mbappé".

The demands of working at Real Madrid: "Six months after leaving my executive post at the club, I bumped into an old friend, who commented: 'Mate, I see you've had a face lift!'. To which I replied: 'No, I've left Real Madrid'".

Attempts to sign Cantona at Real Madrid: "Mendoza told me it was impossible. At that point, the club just didn;t have the funds although it was strange as the following season, they brought in Capello, Mijatovic, Suker, Roberto Carlos, Illgner, Panucci, Seedorf... I don't know whether the money suddenly appeared from. We just did what we could with the resources we had. If Cantona had joined, maybe the phenomenon that is Raúl would never have happened, because I would have been less likely to take a gamble on him like I did".