After two very successful years, Schalke's Spanish forward Raul announced he would be leaving the club at the end of the season when his contract expires.
Bundesliga soccer club Schalke 04 announced on Thursday that Spanish forward Raul will leave the team at the end of the season when his contract expires.
At a press conference, Raul said he wanted to make more time for his wife and children, which was difficult playing in a top-level European league.
"My future lies outside of Europe in a league that is not as strong as the Bundesliga," he said.
He said he would take time to review offers on the table with his advisor after the Bundesliga season ends in three weeks' time. He has been linked in media reports to teams in Qatar.
Short but sweet
He only played for them for two seasons, but Raul's impact on Schalke has been a large one since joining the team in 2010. In 63 Bundesliga matches, he has scored 27 goals and helped Schalke claim the German Cup last season. Schalke also made it to the semifinal of last season's Champions League and will likely qualify for next year's competition.
The 34-year-old Spaniard will be missed by fans and teammates alike.
"We must accept this decision even if it is difficult as we spent two great years together," said Schalke president Clemens Tönnies. "I want to say thank you - you are an ambassador for the sport and you allowed our club to shine that much brighter. Schalke's door will always be open to you."
"Raul is a complete team player, who will give everything for the team and the club until his last match," said coach Huub Stevens, referring to Schalke's final three games, which will determine their fate regarding qualification for the Champions League next year. "I have great respect for him."
Before coming to Schalke, Raul played for Spanish giants Real Madrid, where he won three Champions League titles and six league titles. He also has 102 caps for the Spanish national team and took part in three World Cups, the last of which was in Germany in 2006.
mz/pfd (Reuters, dpa, SID)