Sergio Ramos - the player you either love or love to hate

Josip Brajkovic
Josip Brajkovic
Published: 29.3.2023.


Sergio Ramos

One of the most hated players of all time, yet ask any fan base if they want a player with Sergio Ramos' characteristics in their squad and they would all unanimously open their arms. Eventually writing songs about him and making banners with a silhouette of his face. Not only because of his incredible goalscoring skills as a defender, not just because of his leadership abilities, not for his ultimate commitment despite lifelong stardom… But also because of the very traits that make him so unloved - his combativeness. And that's a strong euphemism we're using as it did bring him into some less-desired record books.

So how come did this player with unique capabilities, mentality, and approach came to be, where is he now, and just how wild his achievements are already? The respect for Sergio Ramos will only increase over time as no one will be able to fill the mould he crafted for himself.

Young Sergio Ramos - the origin story of football’s anti-hero

While Sergio Ramos is synonymous with Real Madrid at this point - despite the surprising and cold exit - he represented another major Spanish side in the past. Born in the province of Andalusia, in a small town called Camas - orbiting the much more well-known Seville. The ball was at the feet of young Sergio Ramos from the get-go. Firstly representing the local Camas CF. Getting his first kit at the age of six.


Map

The blonde-haired boy who always rocked a bowl cut and a smile got his first nickname there - 'Schuster from Camas.' Referring, of course, to the German player of the '80s and '90s, Bernd Schuster, who spent eight years with Sergio's future bitter rivals Barcelona. But also joined Real Madrid afterwards. And the comparison wasn’t only due to the hair, but because Sergio used both of his feet at that tender age.

The Spaniard didn't start in the centre of defence, the position he later made his own, but on the sides. Even though the pitch of Camas was quite large, and Sergio Ramos was a young boy, he made it seem small with his dust-lifting speed, according to the former president of the club. Even at that young age, he was impressing with his physical prowess, which later became a staple in his book of strengths. While also improving his stardom stature as Sergio Ramos is very popular even amongst those who can't explain the offside rule.

From the jump, he was playing with older kids. It was revealed that even as a boy, Sergio Ramos’s coach made him run on mounds of mud in order to improve his strength. An approach that we might see in cheezy ‘90s action movies or from the most hardcore of MMA fighters. Yet, it has proven itself as a good base as Ramos’ approach to training has been apparent to anyone who has peaked into Real Madrid’s training centres over the years.

As the place Sergio Ramos is from - with 25,000 people living there now - it of course doesn’t have a more important son.

"When he does come back to Camas, it's like God is coming, people throw themselves at him," says Juan Luis Angulo, the former president of the club.

His talents were too apparent for Sevilla not to bring the boy the six or so kilometres to their Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan stadium. Where he played in the same generation with the also later household name Jesus Navas and the tragically deceased Antonio Puerta.

Sergio Ramos Sevilla love-hate relationship

Aged 12, the Andalusian joined the club that was yet on the rise in the province and the country - Sevilla. In the year 2000, the team returned to Segunda after just getting promoted to the big league. This wasn't the Europe League-owning Sevilla of today.

Yet the fans were always ambitious and knew that a special talent was needed to take the team to new plains. Sergio started playing for the club's second team, then known as Sevilla Atletico, in the third tear, in the 2003/2004 season. In the same season, the not-yet-18-year-old teenager got the taste of the big leagues.

Sergio Ramos' debut came in the defeat against the then-strong Deportivo La Coruna, as he played for 26 minutes. By the end of that season, he was playing full games for the Andalusians.

Ramos changed another local prospect, although not positionally, but in terms of taking on the weight of the fans' expectations - having a young prodigy to lead them into a better era, Jose Antonio Reyes. Who just joined Arsenal in a big-money move.

Even though he was a teenager, it was clear to all in the sport that Sergio Ramos had uncanny potential and he was viewed as a saviour of sorts. Yet, Sergio only ended up playing one full season with Sevilla, the 2004/2005 one. But it was enough to show that the fans were onto something as the club ranked sixth and qualified for Europe.

While Ramos showed his proclivity for goalscoring, impacting the scoreline against Real Sociedad and his next club, Real Madrid. Notching 42 appearances, some as a centre-back, some even as a right-back, even though Dani Alves was at the club.

Los Blancos couldn’t ignore the talents and that’s when the break in the relationship between Sergio and Sevillistas began. As the 2005/2006 season started, Santiago Bernabeu issued a rallying call for the national treasure.

Here is where the story differs depending on who you ask. It’s mainly believed around the cafes of Sevilla that Ramos was even ready to sign a long-term contract with the club. That his representatives prepared a contract that included him becoming a captain and a clause that would make him earn as much as any potential new signing after him. Yet, the people running the club laughed at the possibility of a homegrown player being a top earner.

Hence, Ramos got upset and decided to join Real. It’s believed that the head people of Sevilla tried to spin the story as if Sergio was forcing the move and that Real simply met the release clause of €27,000,000. Although, the Spain legend disagrees.

"My signing was fully agreed between the clubs; it wasn't Real Madrid meeting a clause, as it was said to have been. That meant the fans didn't give me the same affection that I've always had and always will have for the club," said Sergio.


Sevilla FC Flag

Ramos was and remains a Sevilla fan.

"I’m Sevillista and I will be to the death. When I die, there will be two flags on my grave, one of Sevilla and the other of Madrid."

But the anger the seemingly perpetually angry player feels about the transfer saga as his family suffered the consequences in the passionate football-obsessed city. No one from Ramos' close family remains there anymore.

"All of the information was manipulated, and they lied to Sevilla. It was painful, not only for me but for my family. I'll never forgive them for the pain my grandparents went through, for my parents, who cannot return to Sevilla's stadium," said Ramos. "It's the biggest pain that I've felt. That's why I've acted with rage and with anger when I've played and scored there, because of everything my family have suffered."

The incident Sergio is referring to here is the sequel to the story. In 2017, when he was already an established Real Madrid player and a global legend, he took the headlines after a match against Sevilla in their home. His former. It was 12 years after his transfer but the blood was boiling on the stands as well as on the pitch.

Sergio was getting insulted by the Biris Norte, the ultra section of Sevilla fans, as his Real was losing. The former local hero was welcomed with chants of "Sergio Ramos, son of a whore." At the score of 3:1 for Sevilla, Sergio took the ball to take the penalty, right in front of the infamous Biris Norte. With the insulting chants reaching their decibel peak, Ramos silenced them with the softest of the football moves - the panenka. He then turned his back to the stand, pointing to the name on his shirt - showing who he is, in case the mob forgot.

Although Sergio then tried to show the side terraces respect and to mimick that his issue was only with the Biris Norte section. Facing a mixed response.

So controversy has followed the young Sergio Ramos as much as the adult one. Success was present throughout as well.

The incident Sergio is referring to here is the sequel to the story. In 2017, when he was already an established Real Madrid player and a global legend, he took the headlines after a match against Sevilla in their home. His former. It was 12 years after his transfer but the blood was boiling on the stands as well as on the pitch. When Sergio’s name was read out by the stadium announcer, the deafening boos made it to 100 decibels!

Sergio was getting insulted by the Biris Norte, the ultra section of Sevilla fans, as his Real was losing. The former local hero was welcomed with chants of "Sergio Ramos, son of a whore." At the score of 3:1 for Sevilla, Sergio took the ball to take the penalty, right in front of the infamous Biris Norte. With the insulting chants reaching their decibel peak, Ramos silenced them with the softest of the football moves - the panenka. He then turned his back to the stand, pointing to the name on his shirt - showing who he is, in case the mob forgot.

Although Sergio then tried to mimic to the side stands that he was only talking to the ultras, and apologized to the general spectators. To a mixed response from the faithful Sevillistas.

While now there are rumours that Sergio Ramos might rejoin Sevilla in the future as his Paris Saint-Germain contract expires, they seem to be far-fetched. Seeing how there are stadiums whose hosts would welcome the legendary defender Sergio Ramos with open hands. Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan isn’t one of them. In proud Andalusia, they also resent the prodigal son for aligning so fully with the rivals in Madrid, and even losing his provincial accent.

Sergio Ramos Real Madrid epic

Sergio Ramos UEFA Champions League between Liverpool and Real Madrid

On the last day of August in 2005, Real Madrid scooped up the teenager from Camas in Andalusia for the then-record for a Spanish defender. A week later, the 19-year-old was presented at the Santiago Bernabeu alongside president Florentino Perez and the honorary president and Real legend Alfredo Di Stefano. Ramos was the only Spanish signing during Perez's first reign in Spain's capital.

"Sergio Ramos is the best defender I've had at Real Madrid," Perez stated at one time and its hard to argue otherwise.

Two days after his presentation, Sergio Ramos made his Real Madrid debut against Celta in a 3:2 loss at home.

At the start of his career with Los Blancos, Ramos played as a centre-back but also as a defensive midfielder. His comfort with the ball and physicality allowed him such transitions. While the 2006/2007 season saw the switch between right-back and centre-back depending on the opponents and teammates available.

With the arrival of Christoph Metzelder and Pepe in the 2007/2008 season, Ramos was mostly employed on the right side of the defence.

Sergio stayed at Real Madrid for 16 seasons, so it's not surprising for many to believe he started in the academy of the royal club. As he was an untiring professional his Real Madrid stats are mindboggling by themselves, he managed to collect 671 appearances for the club. Only three other players have played in more games than the Andalusian, with Raul (741), Iker Casillas (725) and Manolo Sanchis (710).

While Ramos also reached three-digit goalscoring numbers. As a defender.

In just two of his 16 seasons with Real Madrid, Ramos played less than 40 games across all competitions. One of those was his last where he suffered a big injury. Sergio also had two seasons with 51 games played during them.

His legendary status was solidified symbolically at the start of the 2015/2016 season as he was made the primary captain as Iker Casillas moved to Porto.

But the story of Sergio Ramos’ Real Madrid era is best displayed through silverware. 22 pieces of them.

Sergio Ramos trophies

Sergio Ramos of Real Madrid celebrates the winning of the UEFA Champions League

With Sevilla, Sergio Ramos didn't get to lift a trophy of any kind, yet for all the other sides he represented, he got a hold of a piece of metal.

Starting with Real's season of 2006/2007 when he won the first trophy of his career - La Liga. Defending the honours the following year and winning the league three more times - in 2011/2012, 2016/2017, and 2019/2020 for a total of five wins. This is considered by some as a dink on Sergio Ramos' trophy haul as he won a quarter of the seasons he played in. Great for all others, but not for Real Madrid players. Along with this, it’s also mentioned that Sergio is the player with the most losses in El Classico games.

Ramos also had 15 opportunities to win the Spanish Cup, Copa del Rey, yet managed it only twice - in the 2010/2011 and 2013/2014 seasons.

The Spanish Supercup he has won four times - in 2008, 2012, 2017, and 2020.

Yet the most important Sergio Ramos honours are the four Champions League trophies. Firstly, he played a crucial part in winning the jubilee tenth big-eared trophy for Real Madrid by scoring an equaliser in the 93rd minute of the final against city rivals Atletico. In extra time, his teammates scored three more times for the final 4:1.

Hence he is referred to as the hero of La Decima.

Sergio Ramos also scored in the next CL final Real won, also against Atletico. But in the 2015/2016 showdown, the game went into penalties where Ramos scored in the fourth series. Real then won two more consecutive Champions League finals with Ramos a starter in both. Winning these continental titles enabled Ramos to grab a hold of seven more trophies. Three in the European Supercup (2014, 2016, 2017) and four in the FIFA Club World Cup (2014, 2016, 2017, 2018). Even topping the scoring and winning the best player award in the 2014 iteration of the global tournament.

Sergio Ramos's individual honours are too numerous to list, but he was namedin the FIFA FIFPro World 11 a staggering 11 times (2008, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020).

While he didn’t have much of an impact here, the defender won the Ligue 1 and the French Supercup in 2022.

Sergio Ramos Spain titles


Sergio Ramos during the UEFA Nations League game against Ukraine

Yet Sergio Ramos wouldn't have reached the heights of his legend if it was not for the national team's success with the Spanish Red Fury. While the side was numerically dominated by Barcelona players, Ramos provided with the combativeness needed to win such tournaments.

First was the 2008 European Championship in Austria and Switzerland when Germany succumbed in the final.

The Red Fury continued its era in the next major tournament, the 2010 World Cup in South Africa when the Netherlands lost 1:0, the same as Germany did two years prior.

While the era of Spanish domination was completed in Euros 2012, held in Poland and Ukraine when Ramos' team defeated Italy 4:0 in the final.

Sergio Ramos' Spain career also reached a major individual landmark as he became the player with the most caps for the national team, at 180 of them.

A number that will seemingly stay as in February of 2023, Sergio Ramos retired from the Spanish international team. Although he wanted to continue playing, yet the manager Luis de la Fuente called him to say he wasn't counting on him, despite Sergio still playing on a world-class level.

Sergio Ramos’ PSG twist

Sergio Ramos of Paris Saint-Germain

It might've seemed that Sergio Ramos will finish his career at Santiago Bernabeu, but not for those who remembered how Los Blancos treated its other top legends like Raul and Casillas. While it seemed that Perez and Ramos were on the same wavelength, the two parties couldn't have agreed on a new contract at the end of the 2020/2021 season.

Once again, Ramos felt disrespected because he was solely offered a one-year contract with the current one expiring that summer. On the other hand, Real was fearing Sergio Ramos‘ fitness might be on the decline as he missed more than half of the games Real played that year.

"My first choice was to stay. I received a one-year offer with a salary cut. The money wasn't an issue, I wanted a 2-year contract for myself and my family. I insist, it was not a financial issue. I've always said Real Madrid and Sergio Ramos was the perfect marriage," said Ramos upon leaving.

Paris Saint-Germain, always in need of stars, took the chance and brought the Real captain the same year it took Barcelona's legend, Leo Messi. But at the start, it seemed as if Madrid made the right decision.

The intensity of play and preparation naturally had to take a toll on Sergio Ramos and he battled injuries throughout his career. Yet, it was particularly visible at the start of his Paris Saint-Germain career.

Sergio Ramos missed most of the 2021/2022 season due to a series of injuries, mostly connected to his calf. All while the optics were much worse than it seemed, as PSG gave up on their own veteran captain Thiago Silva after eight years, to make room for the Spaniard. Yet it was the Brazilian who excelled in the much tougher league while Sergio was in the infirmary. Still, the determined individual he is, Ramos returned in the 2022/2023 season, during which he turned 37, and missed only four league games out of the first 28 - the time of this writing.

With the performances he showed in the physical Ligue 1, and a record of fitness excellence and commitment, clubs are lining up to speak with Sergio Ramos as the deal with the Parisians is coming to an end in the summer of 2023.

Sergio Ramos' goals stats are still confusing

Sergio Ramos - Match between Spain vs Italy, FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier

Sliding tackles, marking, anticipation, pressing, and annoying the opponents into a mistake are all traits that make Sergio Ramos a legendary defender. However, the stat line that might make him solitary in discussions of the best football defender ever is the numbers he put in on the opposite side of the pitch - scoring goals.

An introduction to just how Sergio Ramos' goals toll is crazy can be the fact that the defender is amongst the top 10 all-time Spain goalscorers with 23 goals!

Another might be that midfield legends Figo, Xavi, and Zidane have all scored fewer goals than the mostly centre-back Sergio Ramos!!!

The bulk of which was scored with Real Madrid, yet Sergio showed his nose for goal in Sevilla with three goals scored in all competitions over 50 games for Andalusians.

Yet, the numbers shine through at Real Madrid the most. In 671 games, Sergio Ramos has scored 101 goals!

Four of those matches saw him bag a brace - that is two goals.

While some might say that he achieved that high goalscoring tally because he was privileged to take the penalties in Real, the truth is he scored only 16 goals from the spot in La Liga. Where he scored 76 of his 101.

Of his total 110 club goals, Sergio Ramos scored 22 by taking the penalty kick.

Of course, his main weapon was his aerial ability and 53 of his goals have come by heading. Sergio Ramos managed to get a double-digit goalscoring salvo in three of his 16 seasons with Real. In 2016/2017 he scored 10 in 44 games across all competitions. He also bagged 11 in the 2018/2019 season on 42 matches total. While in the 2019/2020 season, Sergio Ramos scored his record of 13 goals in a season. More impressively, he reached double-digit goals in the league alone, scoring 11 times in 35 matches for Real.

As we stated, his PSG days haven't gone quite as planned, yet Sergio bagged four goals there too, including a backheel one.

Of course, as a right-back in many of his seasons, and an aerial agile threat for set pieces, Sergio Ramos made quite a lot of assists too. Bagging 40 for Real Madrid, and one for PSG.

While some easily call him the greatest defender in the history of football, others would never admit to it due to his arrogant and let's just say it, sometimes dirty approach to playing the game. Yet the numbers don't lie, the deltoids he might've built just by lifting the trophies he won too, the statements made by his peers who are nothing short of superlative as well.

Love him, or hate him, Sergio Ramos is a born winner and that fire is not close to being extinguished at the age of 37.




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