Jorge Valdano sat down for an interview with Jesus Bengoechea and Ramon Alvarez of La Galerna to discuss a host of Real Madrid related items. The former Real Madrid player, coach, and sporting director is always one to share his eloquent and philosophical thoughts. In a wide-ranging interview, it was his quotes regarding Raul - both as a player and now as a manager - that stood out most. The quotes have been transcribed below:
Raul: “He is the idea of Madrid made physical. I used to say to my people: ‘If there is a war one day, Raúl goes with the Madrid flag’”.
When did you first see Raul and identify his talent?
“I came one day from Tenerife to watch a U19 match. Raúl came in with fifteen minutes to go, and he surprised me a lot. I said to Ramón Martínez: “And who is that little guy?” He was 16. He was small and electric. He did not stop. He did not stand out for anything in particular, but his mobility was enormous. I was amused. Some time later, already in Madrid, they told me if I remembered him. ”Of course,” I said, “a guy like that, one doesn’t forget.” ”Well, he wants to go from Atleti”, they answered me. I was at that time when I wanted to kick Zamorano ...”
Convincing Raul to join and stay at Real Madrid:
“That’s how it is. The fact is that I met with him and convinced him that not to go back to Atelti, which was an idea more of his father than his own. He tells in his book that my words sounded like music to him. He dismissed the idea of leaving. There is something instinctive. You fall in love with the player, with his desire to always be given the ball, and with his courage. He had an almost insolent character from the beginning.”
Early anecdotes of young Raul:
“He made his debut with me in a friendly in Oviedo. Before the game, the players began to make a rondo. Raúl lost the ball, but he felt that it was Laudrup who had given him a bad pass. ”It’s your turn, baby,” says the Dane. ”Enter”. ”No, I don’t go in.” ”What do you mean you don’t go in?” “No, I don’t go in. I did not lose it ”.
“He said this to Laudrup! Then I had to get his attention. ”Baby, you have to have respect” and stuff. But he was rabid. There was a training session in which a veteran kicked him hard. He got up, asked for it again, and faced that same veteran. As if to say: “This is the fear I have of you.” What personality. He handled the referees in an incredible way. “Sir, it was a penalty, but don’t worry, I’m going to help you.” And on the next play: “How are you, sir? Are you calm? All is OK” And so he handled them. To the referees. I have never seen. anything like it They never kicked him out. And I insist: he had a superior intelligence.”
Inherit quality as a manager: “He will be one of the best in the history of football. He transmits with the same demand that he applied to himself. He has something inherent in great coaches. Guaridola, Mourinho, Simeone have it: an unstoppable energy.”
Impact on La Fabrica: “If he was here, he wouldn’t let any of us talk. He has in his mind, memorized, the three hundred players from the Cantera. Ask him for a name from the youth levels. It is a marvel. I believe in him a lot as a coach.”
Coaching Castilla: “Raúl is managing Castilla’s youngest squad. He grabs seventeen-year-old boys and after six months he returns them to you as men. He grabs Miguel Gutiérrez and makes him a man. With Antonio? The same. Marvin? A man. Men have been made through an incredible level of demand.”
“Transmitting those values to the boys of today is increasingly difficult, and Raúl does it. Last year they won at Navalcarnero at the last minute, and some Castilla player made an ugly gesture to the public. A Navalcarnero manager told me: “I already admired Raúl, after I heard the anger he hit his players with after that gesture... for me he is a god. I told them that, with a bit of bad luck, they themselves could be playing in the Navalcarnero in a few years”