Despite having achieved cult status in Gelsenkirchen after joining from Real Madrid in 2010, the Spain striker will be leaving the club at the end of the current campaignEXCLUSIVE
By Hassan Talib Haji
Schalke legends Olaf Thon and Ingo Anderbrugge have both criticised the club's decision to retire Raul's number for "an indefinite period".
The Spanish striker announced on Thursday that he will be leaving Gelsenkirchen when his contract expires at the end of the season, having failed to agree terms on a new deal.
Schalke have now decided to honour the former Real Madrid forward by retiring his jersey for an unspecified period of time, but while Thon has the utmost respect for Raul, he does not believe the player worthy of such a gesture.
"Raul played himself into the hearts of the Schalke fans in two years," the Gelsenkirchen native told Goal.com.
"But, in terms of that kind of connection, I want to name players like Ernst Kuzorra, Stan Libuda, Klaus Fichtel and Klaus Fischer.
"Maybe I'm a bit too conservative but they are players with real Schalke roots. They have a real cult status at Schalke. To compare this with Raul's two years at Schalke ... Well, that's too much for me.
"Don't get me wrong, Raul played great during his two years at the club, so it's nothing against him. But you can't exclude the feelings of others hurt by this decision."
Thon's sentiments were echoed by former Schalke team-mate Anderbrugge, who believes that there are players who were far more deserving of the honour.
"Firstly, I have to give Raul credit for what he has achieved at Schalke," the 48-year-old stated. "Nobody thought after he left Madrid that he could play at Schalke at such a high level.
"Personally, I would have imagined that Raul would hang on for another year at Schalke.
"With the retirement of his number, the officials want to show and honour the remarkable status he has at Schalke. But I think his time here was too short for such a decision.
"I rather would have retired the number of Klaus Fischer than Raul, simply because he played longer for the club.
"But the club has to decide. I can live with it if Raul's number is retired just for a year. But when I think about number seven, I think about Rudiger Abramzcik.
"If you would have retired his number, Raul never would have worn seven. But then, at the same time, I don't think it's that important for Abramzcik."
Thon and Anderbrugge were a part of the Schalke side which won the Uefa Cup in 1997.