Sergio Ramos’ entire career has been based on getting under people’s skin, and it’s safe to say that he’s succeeded in doing just that.
From his early days as a Sevilla prodigy to joining Real Madrid for €27m as a teenager and becoming arguably the best defender on the planet in a golden era with Los Blancos, Ramos has always attracted attention in his own box-office manner.
At the 2010 World Cup, Spain’s considerable depth in central defence coupled with Ramos’ agility, athleticism and in-game intelligence and adaptability, meant that he played the entire tournament “out of position” at right-back, although it is a role he was familiar with, having performed admirably there during Spain’s run to glory two years prior at Euro 2008.
It’s a job that he carried out with consummate aplomb, marking then-Real Madrid teammate Cristiano Ronaldo in the round of 16 against Portugal and keeping a clean sheet in the process. La Roja only conceded twice throughout the tournament, and none of those goals was shipped in the knockout stages. Ramos was a cornerstone of the La Roja team that won an unprecedented three major tournaments on the trot.
One area of Ramos’ game that has attracted global criticism is his disciplinary record, and that’s understandable. 27 red cards for Real Madrid is an unwanted all-time record that is unlikely to ever be eclipsed, but his counter-argument will be the clutch performances that he has consistently delivered, down the years and decades, in the moments that mattered.
Sergio Ramos: Always central to the drama
25 major trophies for club & country
With 22 major honours for Real Madrid and three for Spain, Ramos is one of the most decorated players in the history of the sport. With 180 appearances for Spain, he’s also the most capped player in the history of Spain’s national team. Unbelievably, only seven players have more goals than the 23 he has managed for La Roja. Those players are all-time great Spanish greats David Villa, Raúl, Fernando Torres, David Silva, Fernando Hierro, Fernando Morientes and Emilio Butragueño. Whichever metric you look at, Ramos figures near the top.
671 appearances & 101 goals for Los Blancos
Only three players have racked up more appearances in the famous white jersey of Real Madrid than Sergio Ramos. Raúl, Iker Casillas and Manolo Sanchís are all iconic figures at the Bernabeu, and Ramos has earned his place in that exalted company. As for his goal record, how often do you see a central defender notch over a century of goals for one club? The answer — maybe once or twice in a lifetime.
Scored in two separate Champions League finals
Atlético Madrid fans would have been delighted to see the back of Ramos’ number 4 jersey when his move from Real Madrid to PSG materialized. Time and again he has traumatized Real’s city rivals, most notably when his last-gasp header in the 2014 Champions League final took the contest to extra time. The rest, as they say, is history, as Real completed an elusive “La Decima” and Atléti was left to lick its wounds.
Ramos rubbed salt into those wounds at the San Siro just two years later with a man of the match display in the final against the Colchoneros with a goal in regulation time and a clutch penalty kick in the shootout. Arguably the finest defender of his generation, Sergio Ramos has enjoyed an extraordinary career, which is appropriate because he’s no ordinary centre-back and the likes of which we may never see again.
Love him or hate him, you’re going to know about him. Ramos’ old club Real Madrid faces European champions, Chelsea, in arguably the standout tie of this season’s R16 stage.