London: Schalke forward Raul has revealed he could have been lining up for Manchester United in next week's Champions League semi final against his current club.
Raul was offered the chance to join United last year when it became clear that his long spell at Real Madrid was over.
The 33-year-old's representatives were in contact with United as he considered his future, but the Spanish forward opted to move to Schalke instead and has played a key role in their surprise run to the last four of Europe's elite club competition.
Instead of wearing United's famous red shirt, Raul will run out in Schalke blue for the first leg of the semi final in Germany on Tuesday.
"There were a couple of possibilities and United was one but the only person who knows just how close, is (Sir) Alex Ferguson," Raul told the Daily Mail.
"I never spoke to him personally but there were contacts with United.
"Before deciding to come to Schalke I thought about England, where I had a couple of offers.
"I love the footballing culture there, the respect for the game, the atmosphere, the intensity.
"I've been at Old Trafford, Arsenal, at Liverpool watching Fernando Morientes and it's special.
"I fancied the idea. I wanted to try something different. But I've been able to experience that here."
Raul is the leading goalscorer in Champions League history and one of the icons of his generation, but he is a fan at heart and admits he would love to swap shirts with United winger Ryan Giggs after the first leg.
"He's a great professional who looks after himself. Giggs and (Paul) Scholes are players for whom I have an enormous admiration," Raul said.
"I would love to swap shirts with Ryan Giggs after the game. It would be a great honour."
Schalke will go into the first leg at the Veltins-Arena as underdogs but if they pull off a shock win, Raul could face Real in the final at Wembley if Jose Mourinho's team can get past Barcelona.
Raul said: "We dream of beating United. Let's see if we're the better team. Logic says United will be - but we'll try.
The prospect of facing Real in such a big match is too much for Raul to contemplate now and he added: "I don't know. right now, I can't find the words. If it happens, it would be more than special.
"We didn't expect to get here so we're satisfied. Now we want a little more: we don't know when the chance will present itself again.
"A final would be even more incredible. I hope it's Madrid.....well, I don't know actually. It would be strange. Very strange.
"If you can guarantee that we'll win the final, maybe it would even be better to play Barcelona. If not, Madrid. Let's see what destiny has in store."