The Real Madrid forward has single-handedly changed what it means to be a goalscoring legend.
Raul wore Real Madrid’s No. 7 shirt during Cristiano Ronaldo’s first season there. He was the kind of player Madrid fans had in mind when it came to great goalscorers. By the time Raul left – at the end of the 2009-10 season – he had earned the honour of being the club’s all-time top scorer.
Adored by all Madrid fans though he was, they knew – despite their affections – that his time at the very top was at an end. He departed for Schalke with 323 goals scored in 741 games.
Raul was 33 when he left the Spanish capital. Cristiano Ronaldo is 32 and appears to be gearing up for another stage in his career – another challenge – and many more goals. He has already scored 395 goals in 386 matches for Real Madrid. That’s 63 more goals than Raul in 355 fewer games.
Raul scored on average a goal every 2.29 games. Ronaldo’s Madrid average is a goal every .98 games. If he plays as many matches as Raul – and continues to score at this rate – he’ll finish with 755 goals for Real Madrid. Granted, he’d have to play another six seasons, but remember he signed a five-year contract last year.
Look at those numbers again. He has single-handedly redefined what it means to be a great Real Madrid goalscorer. Cristiano Ronaldo surpassed Raul’s goalscoring record very close to 100 per cent quicker. In other sports that rate of improvement takes decades, even centuries.
A goal ratio as close to 1:1 as to be indistinguishable at a time when the game has never been quicker or more difficult is not only astonishing, it’s like an alien with advanced knowledge of how to score goals has teleported to earth with the sole intention of obliterating earthlings and their puny, pre-historic abilities.
The standards he’s set himself are so high that a streak of two or three games without a goal is considered a drought.
There is no question that this time last year doubts were raised over his longevity and how much he had left to give not only Real Madrid but Portugal too. He was suffering knocks. He was unhappy. He was unable to influence the biggest games like Clasicos or Madrid derbies. He was lumbering under accusations that he was padding his records; lots of goals against the not-so-good teams and precious few against the very good ones.
Ronaldo, though, has a way of making you eat your words like no other player. A six-month barren spell in the Champions League this season was sufficient to have pundits again writing him off and favouring Bayern Munich to progress from the quarter-finals. He scored five goals over two legs in which he probably didn’t “play” very well.
He is the first man to reach 100 goals in this competition. He is – of course – the all-time top goalscorer, just like he is for his country, for his club and the European Championships. The goalscoring records seem never-ending because the next time he scores he’ll probably break another one. He is beyond conventional analysis.
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