NEW YORK -- When it comes to important moments in the rebooted New York Cosmos history, Tuesday's introductory press conference for Raul is certainly up there.
Withe the rain teaming outside the Four Seasons Hotel in Manhattan, Raul made his first appearance as a member of the Cosmos. The Spanish striker signed a two-year deal with the NASL club on October 30, which includes Raul assisting in the development of a Cosmos academy program.
"It's a great honor to become part of this historic and grand club," Raul said, in english, during his opening remarks to the press. "I hope to add to the great history of the New York Cosmos, and contribute to its great future. My focus will be on the field, helping the team win many games, and to pass along my experience to the younger players. I will also help to develop the structure of our youth academy."
The Spanish star is well known throughout the soccer world for his time with Real Madrid. The 37-year-old spent 16 years with the club and is Real Madrid's all-time goal scorer, recording 323 goals during his career there.
Raul and the Cosmos had been flirting with one another for a year trying to work out a deal to bring him to Long Island. After a visit to the Cosmos training facility in Nassau County and taking in a game, Raul was all but sure that the Cosmos was where he wanted to be.
"The project convinced me because I was looking forward to coming to the United States, and there's no better city than New York to be in, and the club has had some great stars like Pelé," Raul said through a translator. "I was able to participate and train with the club, and after that I had very little doubt that this was indeed a great project, and I was ready to sign. I'm very much looking forward to starting.There's a very important word for me which is passion - this word has been transmitted to me.
"I know that this is going to be a challenge, professionally and personally, as well as at a family level. But I think it's going to be great, and I'm ready to move forward with this."
Raul is just the latest big name star from overseas to sign with an American club. The MLS has had a string big name signings, including NYCF adding David Villa and Frank Lampard for their 2015 inaugural season.
The newest Cosmo is hoping his arrival will add to the excitement for soccer fans in the area.
"They will bring the kids, the attention, because they are the big idols," Raul said about soccer stars from Europe coming to the United States. "I would like to be a part of this movement, and see the kids getting out of school and going to play soccer, and follow those big idols coming from Europe.
"A few days ago, I was in Central Park, and next to a baseball field they started to kick the ball around, and all of a sudden there were 14 kids playing soccer. That is the main reason, and that is why the academy will try to develop those kids to help soccer grow in the United States."