Raul Garcia enters La Liga folklore for high-flying appearances
Athletic Bilbao’s Raul Garcia overtook Real Madrid legend and namesake Raul Gonzalez (550) to take third place on the La Liga appearances list.
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Garcia enhanced the Real Madrid icon’s number of top appearances with his debut against Valencia before adding two more caps to his name against subsequent games against Granada and boyhood club CA Osasuna.
Garcia started his career at Osasuna and played the majority of his football at senior level for Atletico Madrid before joining the Basque giants.
The Pamplona-born player started his career with hometown club Osasuna under manager Javier Aguirre, whom he followed to Atletico Madrid years later.
Former Spain and Osasuna player Patxi Punal, who saw Garcia rise through the ranks at Los Rojillos, recalls his impression of the boy from the Basque Country.
“I couldn’t tell you the exact year we met; I had already been playing for a few years when Raul entered the scene. “begins Punal.
“He was already playing like the player he is today. He showed his quality at a very young age,” the midfielder recalled.
Punal was confident that Garcia would continue to achieve great things even when the player was a young lad starting to ply his trade for Osasuna.
“With some players it’s hard to see how they will develop, but not with Raul. Ever since he was a kid it was clear he was going to do great things.
Garcia, who turns 36 in July this year, still has it in him to keep going for a few more years, feels Punal.
“Even at this stage of his career, he has enough reserves to continue for a few more years. I think Raul can play football for as long as he wants.
The industrious player showed obvious glimpses of his quality and attributes from an early age. And Punal feels Garcia is not done yet.
“Raul has always been a hardworking guy and very focused on his goals. He didn’t come just to make friends. He came to train hard,” remembers Punal.
“He wanted to be a professional, and a good professional at that. And he succeeded. Raul will continue to play as long as he wants.
The Pamplona native has the third-most appearances in the Spanish top flight behind legendary goalkeeper Andoni Zubizarreta and Real Betis icon Joaquin.
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