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Raul: Qatar visitors will benefit if the World Championship takes place in winter

May 2012. After eighteen incredibly successful years in Spanish Primera and bundesliga, the best goal scorer in the Real Madrid history, Raul Gonzalez decided to leave Europe and moved to the Middle East, to Qatar. Today, he plays for local Al-Sadd to additionally prove that this tiny country engrosses increasingly greater attention of the whole world. We have met the legend of spanish football at the Al-Sadd’s training ground to talk about Raul’s today’s life, plans, and dreams for 2014, and why, actually, the World Championship-2022 is better to play in winter.

From Real to Qatar

— Raul, do you like to live in Qatar?
— It was a perfect year to me. After five years without silverware, Al-Sadd has won the Qatar’s League. My family and I have spent wonderful time. We are very happy in Qatar.

— How competitive is the Qatar league? Is it interesting to play there?
— I played eighteen years in Europe, and six of which for Real. Now, it is very important to me to live where I can spend more time with the family. Qatar is ideal to me! I can both continue to play football and spend a lot of time with my kids. The Al-Sadd Football Club is one of the bests in Qatar. The level of the League becomes stronger and stronger year by year. In February, we shall start playing in the Asiatic Champions League, and this definitely motivates me.

— How comfortable your kids feel in Doha? Qatar is still far away from Europe and its standards...
— We have managed to well accommodate our kids. We go to an American and a British school. Educational standards here are quite high, so we are very happy. In addition, they play football in Espire Academy. In winter, the weather here is fantastic. So, we are enjoying the moment.

— And how is the weather here in summer? There are numerous disputes now around timing of holding the World Championship-2022. Have you had a chance to play in Qatar in summer?
— I will express my own opinion: it is better to play in Qatar in winter. From October to March, it is ideal weather conditions here. In May, June, and July, the weather is awful. I had a chance to play in July, and I can say that this is almost impossible. Very high humidity makes playing bad. Of course, if necessary, we play also in July… But I believe that players and fans feel uncomfortable in summer. It is evident that using high technologies, organizers will manage to provide right temperature in the stadiums, but it is much more challenging to fight the weather outside sports facilities. For Qatar, it is better if the World Championship takes place in winter. In this case, visitors of the country may go sightseeing and completely enjoy the event.

Power will have come here by 2022!

— Regarding your plans for next year: your possible transfer to the new Club New-York Cosmos has been widely discussed in the Internet, as well as your possible comeback to Real as a coach. True?
— Is this really being discussed? I even did not know! I have no specific plans for 2014, which is true. My contract with Al-Sadd is valid for another six months. In three-four months, I have to decide whether to play here or not.

— But are you considering a possibility of your transfer to any other club?
— I cannot say anything now. I am happy in Doha. I have also a contact with the Espire Academy for another year, so, I will most probably stay here. I will continue to play if I feel good.

— What are your interests in Espire?
— I work with players aged twelve to eighteen. These are young and talented Qatar players. We are preparing them for future so that Qatar will have got a strong national team by 2022. Doha provides perfect conditions for developing football sport with ideal fields and qualified experts. I have watched very fast progress of these players during the year. I believe that we will be able to gradually train a strong team in Qatar.

— Raul, for millions of football fans, you are the legend. During sixteen years with Real Madrid, you gained all titles possible. Do you feel a sense of nostalgia about those days? What comes to your memory most often?
— It is a great honour to me to play football. It was my dream from my childhood. I feel extremely lucky to stay so many years with Real, win the Champions League, and play in Germany within Schalke, a very famous soccer club. I am very glad to afford pleasure to many people. Our stadium in Qatar is probably the last one, where I am playing football. I am a very happy man. I have had many injuries, and may still enjoy each play, each training session. During all times, I have felt powerful support, close attention to my person. Even these days, when I live in Qatar, so far from Europe and Spain, dozens of people approach me daily, and thank for those years I sent with Real. This makes me feel special and happy.

— I see that soccer for you is one of the most important things in the world. But do you have any hobby outside the stadium?
— Sure! This is my family, my kids. I have five kids, four boys and one girl. My boys also play football.

Text: Anna Schlyakhtenko-Lidster 

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