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New York Cosmos sign Real Madrid legend Raul on multi-year contract

The New York Cosmos have signed former Real Madrid and Spain striker Raul to a multi-year contract.

ESPN FC reported on Wednesday that the two sides had agreed to terms, and it has now been confirmed that Raul has put pen to paper.

"Everyone throughout the soccer world knows the Cosmos name and the legacy of the players that played for this team previously," Raul told the club's official website. "They helped establish soccer in America and I'm honored to follow in their footsteps. I believe in this club's vision and I'm excited to be a part of that."

An official statement read on Friday: "The New York Cosmos announced today that former Spanish national team captain Raul Gonzalez Blanco has signed a multi-year contract to join the club for the 2015 North American Soccer League campaign, pending a physical. As per club policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

"Raul will also take on an additional role as technical advisor for the New York Cosmos Youth Academy, which is slated to open in 2015. Upon his retirement from playing, Raul will assume a full-time role overseeing the academy."

Raul, 37, made 102 appearances for Spain, and his 44 goals leave him behind only David Villa in the country's top-scorer list.

He spent the bulk of his club career with Real Madrid, and is the club's all-time leading scorer, scoring 323 times in all competitions.

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE TOP SCORERS

1. Lionel Messi - 77 (97 games) - Barcelona
1. Cristiano Ronaldo - 77 (119) - Man Utd, Real Madrid
3. Raul - 71 (142) - Real Madrid, Schalke 04
4. Ruud van Nistelrooy - 56 (73) - PSV, Man Utd, Real Madrid
5. Thierry Henry - 50 (112) - Monaco, Arsenal, Barcelona

After completing his 16th season with Los Blancos in 2010 -- a spell in which the club won six La Liga titles and three Champions League crowns -- he moved to Bundesliga side Schalke.

Raul played for the Gelsenkirchen-based club for two seasons, after which he spent two season with Al-Sadd. He made his last appearance for the Qatari side last March.

Since that time, the Cosmos have been aggressively pursuing Raul. Published reports indicated that there was a time when it looked like the former Spain international might join up with New York during the fall season.

But Real Madrid then made an offer to Raul to become technical director -- with club president Florentino Perez saying the striker was keen on a role -- while Al-Sadd made a push for the player to head up its academy.

The additional options delayed his final decision, but the Cosmos were persistent, and after Raul visited the club earlier this month, they were able to convince the player to sign.

"We're obviously thrilled to add a player of his quality to the team," head coach Giovanni Savarese said. "Raul's skill and ability is world renowned. He's a world-class player and he adds a whole new dimension to our attack.

"He also brings immense passion and knowledge that he can share with our team and with the next generation of Cosmos players in our youth academy. He'll help set the academy training curriculum, structure and establish our player development pyramid."

The club's chief operating officer Erik Stover said: "Raul's long list of accolades speaks for itself. He's recognized worldwide as one of the greatest players of his generation and we are now thrilled to welcome him to New York."

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