- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 28, 2010

BERLIN (AP) - Longtime Real Madrid forward Raul Gonzalez signed a two-year contract with Bundesliga club Schalke on Wednesday.

Raul joined Schalke on a free transfer after 15 seasons with Madrid, ending lengthy speculation about the move.

The club presented the 33-year-old striker at its stadium in Gelsenkirchen, giving him the No. 7 shirt.

“I’m looking forward to starting on a new challenge,” Raul said. “It’s an important challenge for me.”

Coach Felix Magath, who secured Raul’s agreement on Tuesday evening, said it was “great news for Schalke.”

“I’m glad that we succeeded in enthusing such an exceptional footballer and world-class goal scorer about a move to the Bundesliga and to Schalke,” Magath said. “His signing is a decisive step in our efforts to strengthen and restructure the squad.”

Schalke had a gap to fill in its attack after Kevin Kuranyi left for Dynamo Moscow at the end of last season. Kuranyi’s 18 goals helped the club to a second-place finish in the Bundesliga behind Bayern Munich, qualifying it for Champions League play.

Raul is Schalke’s second signing from Real Madrid in the offseason, joining former Germany defender Christoph Metzelder who spent three injury-filled seasons at Madrid and saw little playing time.

Raul announced his departure from Real Madrid on Monday.

“I want to experience another type of football, a different culture _ that’s an important challenge in life,” he said at the time. “German or English football _ those are the only two places I would go … my motivation is to keep playing football.”

Raul was mostly relegated to the bench at Madrid following a spending spree by the club last summer.

He made his Madrid debut as a 17-year-old in 1994 and stayed with the club since then _ a span that includes three Champions League triumphs, six Spanish league titles and two Intercontinental Cups.

He leaves with 228 league goals for Madrid, and a record 44 goals in 102 appearances for Spain, though he hasn’t played for the national team since 2006.

Raul is also the leading scorer in UEFA competitions with 66 goals, including 64 in the Champions League.



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