Legendary Spanish striker Raúl savoring the waning moments of a stellar career

SO KON PO, HONG KONG SAR - FEBRUARY 19:  Raul Gonzalez of New York Cosmos reacts during the 2015 Lunar New Year Cup match between South China and the New York Cosmos at Hong Kong Stadium on February 19, 2015 in So Kon Po, Hong Kong.  (Photo by Victor Fraile/Getty Images)

SO KON PO, HONG KONG SAR - FEBRUARY 19: Raul Gonzalez of New York Cosmos reacts during the 2015 Lunar New Year Cup match between South China and the New York Cosmos at Hong Kong Stadium on February 19, 2015 in So Kon Po, Hong Kong. (Photo by Victor Fraile/Getty Images)  (2015 Getty Images)

Sometime in the not-too-distant future, Raúl will wake up one Saturday morning and instead of heading to practice or a soccer stadium, the legendary Spanish striker most likely will stay at home with his family and watch games on TV.

It will be one strange sensation for one of the world's greatest finishers who is about to put the closing touches on a remarkable career.

"I need time to feel this," he told Fox News Latino after training recently. "Maybe the first month is OK. But maybe in February or March, I will miss waking up and coming to train with the team."

After slightly more two decades running around on the soccer field and making the lives of opposing defenders and goalkeepers miserable, Raúl will hang up his boots for good.

Not surprisingly, the 38-year-old striker is savoring every moment he has remaining, although he doesn't know how much time and sand he has left in his career hourglass – although, in soccer, it's more of an hour-and-a-half glass. Raúl has at least one game left as his current club, the New York Cosmos, host the Fort Lauderdale Strikers in the semifinal of the North American Soccer League playoffs, a.k.a., The Championship, in Brooklyn, New York on Saturday at 2 p.m. Eastern.

If the Cosmos win, they will host either the Ottawa Fury or Minnesota United at Shuart Stadium in Hempstead, N.Y., most likely on Sunday, Nov. 15. Which would give Raúl another 90 minutes to perform magic.

Raúl, who did the entire interview with Fox News Latino in English, said he was at peace with his choice.

"It was a difficult decision, but after one year with the team, I decided it was the right thing, the right moment," he said.

After much thinking and talking with his family, Raúl decided to retire. He would rather be in control of his destiny rather than suffer an injury or perhaps not play up to his high standards.

"This is the moment to have more time with my family, to have the weekends at home, to have the opportunity to see the games, my kids," he said. "After 21 years, to enjoy. It's good. I feel good. I would prefer to say bye-bye now that I have played almost all the games."

Raúl is tied for the team scoring lead with 8 goals and 3 assists over 28 matches and 27 starts and 2,311 minutes (third most of any non-goalie) in the 30-game regular season. 

Not too shabby for an "old man." For the record, he has connected for 414 goals in 976 appearances.

"He's been a constant," Cosmos head coach Giovanni Savarese said. "He's a motivator. He shows his passion. He's a person that is very detail-oriented. Most of all, he's a true professional. So he talks to the players. He pushes them. He works very hard, and he shows his quality every single day. We've been very fortunate to have him."

Cosmos midfielder Andrés Flores, captain of the El Salvadoran national squad, called Raúl the consummate pro.

"He's the best example of a professional," he said. "At his age, he's always trying to win everything he plays for. That's something huge for younger players. Then you can see that your age is not important. The important thing is all that you want, and how you prepare for things."

Given everything he has accomplished, Raúl wants to go out on top, and one final victory lap would be quite appropriate for someone who has bagged more than his share of titles.

Raúl's championship haul includes: six La Liga crowns, three UEFA Champions League titles, two Intercontinental Cup championships and a pair of titles in Qatar, among others.

"I would like to win another title," he said, "but I really want it for my teammates and for the club. They have [demonstrated] a lot of effort by everyone to be in this position. I have been lucky to win leagues, but I would like to win to finish my career with another title. It's not easy."

Of course, his teammates would like to return the favor as well.

"That's the main goal, to leave as a champion," midfielder Sebastian Guenzatti said. "So hopefully, the whole team works hard. Marco [Senna] has, and Raúl, they're just brains to the team. It's going to be good."

Senna, another former Spanish international, also is retiring after the season.

Despite his age, Raúl has been quite active, constantly running back into the midfield to aid the Cosmos attack.

Asked what he would miss the most, Raúl replied, "To wake up and come to the field, the grass. To stay with the teammates in the locker room. This is the best. The training. Sometimes you win, you lose. The relationship between the players, the camaraderie."

Then he laughed.

"I don't know," he said. "Maybe in three months I miss a lot. But I think the decision is no, I won't comeback."

Raúl will take some time off before entering the next phase of his life. He wants to live in New York with his family before pursuing other projects. One is with the Cosmos Academy to develop young players.

"I will be trying to help to put all my experience with the kids," he said.

He doesn't know how long he would work with the Academy.

"It is difficult to say – one year, two years, three years," Raúl said. "It's the start, it's the beginning of the project. They have a lot of work to do. But we will see in the next months what will happen with everything.

He added, "I can sleep properly every night. I am happy with all that. I want to enjoy opening my mind to another project, [having] another relationship with soccer. This is my passion."

While he pondered the future, Raúl also looked back when asked about the most memorable games of his illustrious career.

His answer went all the way back to Day 1 and Day 2, some 21 years ago.

"The first game for Real Madrid [at Real Zaragoza]," he said with a smile, remembering back to his La Liga debut on Oct. 29, 1994. "It was my dream to be a professional player,  and the game when I scored the first goal [at home] in Bernabéu. This was a moment I dreamed as a kid a lot of times. This moment was rare."

Raúl was referring to the goal he looped into the upper left corner from 16 yards a week later at Estadio Santiago Bernabéu, Real Madrid's home venue.

"It was amazing," he said. "I was 17. Ninety thousand people."

He concluded, "It was amazing."

Which is the most appropriate way to describe Raúl's legendary career.