The early 90s was a sobering time for followers of Real Madrid.
Their fierce rivals Barcelona had well and truly established themselves as the top dogs in Spanish football, notching four consecutive La Liga titles along with their maiden Champions League crown, as Johan Cruyff’s ‘Dream Team’ swept aside all who dared come before them.
Los Blancos were in need of a rebuild; only once in the previous 40 years had the club experienced such a barren period in terms of league success. They needed a catalyst, an icon, someone they could rely on to shoulder the burden of the world’s biggest club and carry them back to the apex of European football.
Plucked from the Atletico Madrid academy at the age of 15, Raul would be afforded just two years in La Fábrica before being fast-tracked to the senior squad. A run of 16 goals in nine games for the reserve team soon caught the attention of coach Jorge Valdano, and at just 17 years and 124 days of age the youngster was handed his senior debut, thus becoming the youngest player in the club’s history.
The Spaniard formed a lethal partnership with Iván Zamorano – grabbing 37 goals between them in Raul’s debut season – as Real wrestled the league title back to the Santiago Bernabeu.