Raul hails retiring Hierro as 'captain of captains'

Raul has hailed former Spain and Real Madrid defender Fernando Hierro as the "captain of captains" after the 37-year-old announced his retirement from professional football at the end of the season.

"As a player he was a great example on the field of play. He was the captain of captains," Spain forward Raul told sports daily Marca yesterday.

As the current holder of the skipper's armband for both club and country, an honour formerly held by Hierro, Raul added: "He gave his all for Real and for Spain and as a person always helped his colleagues.

"He is a footballer who will go down in history."

Hierro, who made a record 89 international appearances as an outfield player for Spain, is to hang up his boots after a season at English club Bolton Wanderers.

He joined Real Madrid in 1989 and helped the team win six Spanish league titles and three European Cups in his 14 years there.

But he was discarded along with coach Vicente del Bosque a day after the club won the league title in June 2003.

He spent a season at Al Rayyan in Qatar following his departure from Real.

Former Spain coach Javier Clemente, who managed Hierro between 1992 and 1998, said: "He is one of the best players Spanish football has seen. If anyone can be said to have succeeded in football it is him."


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