Raúl's career began at his local team CD
San Cristóbal de los Ángeles playing for their Alevín team and the Infantil the next season.
 He signed with
Atlético Madrid's Infantil team and won a national title with the Cadete team the following season. Following Atlético's then-president
Jesús Gil decision to close their youth academy as a cost-saving measure, Raúl moved on to
Real Madrid's Cadete team in
La Fabrica. The following season, he was promoted to the Juvenil C team and subsequently went on to play for their Juvenil B and Juvenil A team.
 While with the Real youth set-up, Raúl won the
Dallas Cup in 1993 and 1994.
He started his professional career in the 1994–95 season with
Real Madrid C;
 he scored 16 goals in just seven games and was swiftly promoted to the first team by coach
Jorge Valdano, replacing
Emilio Butragueño in a symbolic "passing of the crown." He became the youngest player – 17 years and 124 days – ever to play for the senior side, though the record was broken by
Alberto Rivera later that same season. On 29 October 1994, in an away game against
Real Zaragoza at
La Romareda, he created a goal for strike partner
Iván Zamorano, heralding the demise of Butragueño in the process. The very next week, Raúl scored his first goal in his second senior game on a
home debut against Madrid rivals and former youth club
Atlético Madrid in a bitter
derby match. Duly establishing himself as a fixture in the first team, Raúl registered a total of nine goals in 28 appearances to help Real Madrid win the
1994–95 league championship in his first season.
With Real Madrid, he won several honours, including further La Liga titles in
1996–97 (scoring 21 La Liga goals),
2000–01 (scoring 24 La Liga goals), and
2002–03 (scoring 16 La Liga goals in a campaign truncated by a bout of
appendicitis for which Raúl was hospitalized). During the period from 1998 to 2002, Raúl and Real Madrid also won three
UEFA Champions League trophies in
2002. For most of this time, Raúl struck up a prolific scoring partnership with
Fernando Morientes and later
. Raúl took over the
of Real Madrid when
Fernando Hierro was transferred in 2003, a responsibility he held until leaving the club in 2010. Despite appearing in two finals, in
2002 (in which he scored) and
2004, Raúl never lifted the
Copa del Rey.
Raúl being substituted by
during a match in November 2009. Ronaldo would wear the #7 jersey at Real Madrid after Raúl's departure in 2010.
He became the first player to score 50 Champions League goals when he converted in a 2–1 group stage win over
Olympiacos on 28 September 2005,
 and continues to be the all-time leader in appearances, with 128.
 He was also the first player to score in two Champions League finals, netting in the finals of both
Valencia in the
Stade de France,
Bayer Leverkusen in
Samuel Eto'o later equaled this feat, scoring in the
Arsenal and in
Manchester United, with
Lionel Messi also scoring in the same match and later in
2011 against the same team.
Raúl holds the distinction of having never received a
red card throughout his 17 years at the professional level.
 On 11 November 2008, Raúl scored his 300th goal for Real Madrid with a hat-trick against
Real Unión, with Real winning the match 4–3 but being eliminated on
away goals after draw 6–6 on aggregate.
 In total, Raúl scored 323 goals for Real Madrid, breaking the long-standing club record of
Alfredo Di Stéfano (307) with a volleyed goal against
Sporting de Gijón on 15 February 2009. He is presently fifth on the all-time list of
, behind Argentine
Lionel Messi, Portuguese
Cristiano Ronaldo, Spaniard
Telmo Zarra and Mexican
Raúl and fellow long-serving teammate
Iker Casillas were both awarded "contracts for life" in 2008, the terms of which stipulate the contract will be renewed annually for as long as they play 30 matches each season.
 On 23 September 2009, Raúl equalled former veteran and legend
Manolo Sanchís' league appearance record for Real Madrid,
 and is second in La Liga behind
Andoni Zubizarreta, who played in 622 matches.
Along with years of captaincy for both Real Madrid and Spain, Raúl was known as "El Capitan" ("The Captain").
Raúl's last touch with the ball as Real Madrid player before an injury ruled him out of action for the rest of
that season was to score his last goal, an opening goal scored on 24 April 2010 in a 2–1 away victory against
Real Zaragoza in
La Romareda, coincidentally the stadium where he made his debut in 1994. It was scored in the 50th minute after Raúl (himself only on the pitch as a substitute for
Rafael van der Vaart after 15 minutes) had signalled he could not physically continue and was prepared to be substituted off for
Karim Benzema one minute after the goal.
 Before the substitution could be made, Real Madrid launched a counter-attack to create a goal. Though Raúl ran to a slow hobble, he shuffled into the box and was able to poke the ball from Cristiano Ronaldo's pass.
Having spent the rest of the season recovering from that injury, the club confirmed on 25 July 2010 that Raúl would be leaving the club, a day after his teammate
confirmed he was also leaving after a 15-year spell.
Raúl in a training session with
in August 2011
Raúl signed a two-year contract with
Schalke 04 on 28 July 2010. Schalke head coach
Felix Magath hailed the signing and told the club website, "It's great news for FC Schalke 04, I am pleased that we have succeeded in signing such an exceptional footballer and world-class striker switching to the Bundesliga for Schalke 04."
 Previously, it was expected Raúl would have finished his career in the United States or Qatar, and that he also received a lucrative offer from an unnamed Russian club. Raúl chose Schalke because they qualified for the
2010–11 UEFA Champions League.
Raúl scored his first goal for the club during his first match on 1 August 2010 with a brace in a 3–1 victory over
Bayern Munich in the final match pre-season competition
LIGA total! Cup
2010. One week later, he made his competitive debut in the
2010 DFL-Supercup on 7 August 2010 again against Bayern, but this time he failed to score in the 2–0 defeat. Raúl made his
Bundesliga debut on 21 August 2010 in a 2–1 defeat against
 and scored his first goal for Schalke in the Bundesliga against
Borussia Mönchengladbach on 25 September 2010 in a 2–2 draw.
 After a quiet start, he rediscovered his goalscoring form in the Bundesliga with a brace against
FC St. Pauli on 5 November in a 3–0 win, and on 20 November, he scored his first hat-trick for the club in a 4–0 win over
Werder Bremen. On 18 December, he scored his second hat-trick for Schalke in a 3–0 win against
1. FC Köln.
Raúl with Schalke in 2011
Raúl scored another crucial goal on 2 March 2011 in a 1–0 victory over Bayern Munich in the semi-final of
2010–11 DFB-Pokal. After being absent for six years, Schalke ultimately reached the finals since 2005. In
the final match, they played against
MSV Duisburg, the first
2. Bundesliga team which reached the final since 2004. Raúl never won a domestic cup with Real Madrid (the
Copa del Rey), but on 21 May 2011, in his first season, he finally won a domestic cup and got his maiden trophy with his new club. They won the tournament with a 5–0 win at the
Berlin. This success was followed with victory two months later on 23 July 2011 in the
2011 DFL-Supercup against
the league champions and rivals
In European play, Raúl has since become the highest goal scorer in all
UEFA competitions with 73 goals, ahead of
Filippo Inzaghi with 70 goals. He scored 71 goals in Champions League (66 goals with Real Madrid and five with Schalke 04) and addition his two goals with Los Blancos, one goal in
2000 UEFA Super Cup and the other one in
1998 Intercontinental Cup. On 22 October 2010, Raúl scored twice against
Hapoel Tel Aviv in a 3–1 win, which tied him with German legend
Gerd Müller for the most number of European goals. Raúl duly broke this record on 15 February 2011 on his return to Spain with a crucial away goal in the round of 16 tie against Valencia at the
Mestalla Stadium in a 1–1 draw.
In the quarter-finals, Raúl scored two goals against
Internazionale: one goal in the first leg, a 5–2 away win at the
San Siro, and one in the second leg, a 2–1 home win at the
Veltins-Arena. Schalke progressed to the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League for the first time in their history, where they played against
Manchester United. Schalke lost the first match 2–0, which was their first home defeat this season in the tournament, and lost again 4–1 in
Old Trafford. Despite the defeat, Raúl considered it an honour he had swapped shirts with
 On 19 November 2011, he captained Schalke for the first time due to an injury to
Benedikt Höwedes in a 4–0 home win against
1. FC Nürnberg. He also scored the second goal and assisted the fourth in that match.
Raúl scored another hat-trick against Werder Bremen on 17 December 2011.
 The goals came in a 5–0 win that cemented Schalke's position in third place going into the winter break.
 On 19 February 2012, he scored the 400th goal of his career, at that time, 323 with Real Madrid, 44 with Spain and 33 with Schalke.
 On 5 April 2012, in the second leg
UEFA Europa League match against
Athletic Bilbao, he scored his 77th goal in a European competition.
At a press conference on 19 April 2012, Raúl announced he would leave Schalke after his contract expired in June, and that "[his] future is not in Europe".
 Raúl had such an impact at Schalke that, on his departure, the club opted to retire the number 7 shirt for an indefinite period.
 However, in 2013, the number 7 shirt was eventually reinstated and given to
, Schalke's new prodigy.
Raúl unveiled as an
player in May 2012
On 12 May 2012, it was announced Raúl had signed a deal with Qatari side
Al Sadd for the
2012–13 Qatar Stars League season.
 He played his first competitive match for the club on 5 August in the 2012
Sheikh Jassem Cup, scoring a penalty in extra time in order to secure a 2–0 win against
 The veteran also took on the role of captain after
Abdulla Koni was substituted.
 On 13 April 2013, Raúl captained Al Sadd to the 2012–13 Qatar Stars League title. Raúl scored 9 goals in 22 appearances to help Al Sadd win their first title in five years.
 He was also presented with the post-season
-sanctioned Fair Play Award in May 2013.
On 22 August 2013, Raúl played for Real Madrid in the first half of the
Trofeo Santiago Bernabéu and scored in the 23rd minute. He then played the second half for Al Sadd as Real Madrid won 5–0.
 On 5 March 2014, Raúl announced he would retire from professional football at the end of the Qatari football season, marking the end of a 20-year-long senior career.
New York Cosmos
Raúl walks onto the pitch as a member of the New York Cosmos for a home game in 2015.
On 30 October 2014, Raúl returned to professional football and signed with the
New York Cosmos in the United States.
 He made his
North American Soccer League (NASL) debut on 4 April 2015 in a 1–0 win at the
Fort Lauderdale Strikers, partially owned by his former Real Madrid strike partner Ronaldo, leaving with a hamstring injury in the second half.
 The following week, at the
Indy Eleven, he scored his first goal to equalise in a 1–1 draw.
 Raúl scored four times as the undefeated Cosmos won the
spring season with five wins and five draws.
On 16 October 2015, it was announced Raúl would retire at the end of the season.
 The Cosmos finished with the best regular season record, winning the
North American Supporters' Trophy. On 7 November, he scored the winning goal as his team came from behind to win 2–1 against the Strikers in the semi-finals, earning a place at
Soccer Bowl 2015, which his team won 3–2 against the
Ottawa Fury eight days later. He communicated his decision to retire following the conclusion of the Soccer Bowl.