Scorer supreme of last-minute headers, Sergio Ramos might be a defender by trade but he is also renowned for dramatic interventions at the other end for Real Madrid. He is one of the game’s most garlanded players too, as winner of three Ligas, two UEFA Champions Leagues, UEFA EURO 2008 and 2012, and the 2010 FIFA World Cup among a medley of trophies. UEFA.com salutes Madrid’s captain fantastic.
What they say
“Ramos doesn’t surprise me. It’s what he has – a big personality – and in games like this he’s always there, always encouraging players and never drops his guard. He never gives up.”
Zinédine Zidane, Real Madrid coach
“There are defenders with extraordinary technical quality, others have unique defensive qualities – like Cannavaro – who was brilliant at marking. Others, like Baresi, can command a back line while others influence with their strong personalities. But factoring everything together to evaluate a defender then Sergio Ramos is the most complete. He’s got a little bit of everything: technical quality, strength, personality and leadership.”
Carlo Ancelotti, former Real Madrid coach
“For me Ramos is, at the moment, the best defender in the world. That’s my opinion. He defends well, can play and manages all facets of the game. He’s a very complete footballer.”
Thiago Silva, PSG captain
“Sergio Ramos is the toughest opponent I’ve come up against. He is very strong, has a lot of experience, and is a very competitive player.”
Luis Suárez, Barcelona forward
International: 140 appearances, 10 goals
UEFA club competition: 104 appearances, 11 goals
Domestic competition: 385 appearances, 48 goals
Claims to fame
• Became Spain’s youngest full international for 55 years when he made his debut four days before his 19th birthday, which he celebrated with a first competitive start – in a 2006 World Cup qualifier against Serbia and Montenegro.
• With David de Gea selected ahead of Iker Casillas, Ramos captained Spain at UEFA EURO 2016 and has remained skipper since.
Sevilla Real Madrid
• His transfer from Sevilla to Madrid for €27m in 2005, when aged 19, is a record for a Spanish teenager.
• His goal against Osasuna in September marked the 13th consecutive Liga campaign in which he has netted: a joint-record for a defender that he shares with ex-Athletic Club stopper Aitor Larrazábal.
• Part of an elite group of defenders to have scored in two different European Cup finals and the only one to have done so in the competition in its current format. His efforts in the 2014 and 2016 UEFA Champions League finals against Atlético Madrid put him alongside Tommy Gemmell (1967 and ’70) and Phil Neal (1977 and ’84).
• His stoppage-time equaliser in the 2016 UEFA Super Cup against boyhood team Sevilla means he has notched in the final of the UEFA Champions League, FIFA Club World Cup and UEFA Super Cup. Not bad for a defender.
What you might not know
• Holds the ignominious title of being Madrid’s most prolific collector of red cards having been dismissed a club-record 21 times. His most recent dismissal came in April’s 2-1 victory over Barcelona at Camp Nou. It was his fourth sending-off against Barça, a Clásico-fixture record.
• Ramos is not unfamiliar with charity work and in 2014 was appointed one of Spain’s national ambassadors to UNICEF.
• An aficionado of body art, he recently revealed four new tattoos on his fingers – the numbers 35, 32, 19 and 90+. The first two denote his first two squad numbers with Sevilla, 19 is the number he wore when first capped by Spain, while 90+ represents his stoppage-time equaliser against Atlético as Madrid went on to claim their 10th European Cup in 2014.
• Also loves horses and owns a stud farm in his native Andalusia, where he likes to “switch off and enjoy” himself. One of his animals, Silencio de Ramos, was recently proclaimed Andalusian Champion 2016.
What he says
“I get up every day with the same desire to keep improving, which I’ve been doing since I was a kid. I’m not looking for recognition. All I want to do every year is do even better, forget what we’ve won and set new challenges for myself. I’ll keep going as long as the body allows it.”
“My grandfather and father always told me that even if there’s only one second left, there’s still hope. You’ve got to have that attitude, and that’s always been the attitude of our club throughout its history.”
“In order to set an example you have to perform well, work hard and give your all; show the younger lads so you can ask the same of them. I’m very happy to have the chance to lead this team.”
“I’m glad if I’m a role model. I believe that I’ve fought and sacrificed myself greatly, so that when I retire I can do so with my conscience clear, after having won everything there is to win in this sport.”
What he might achieve yet
• Spain’s second-highest cap holder, he is 27 shy of Casillas’s record of 167. However, at just 30, he has every chance of usurping his former colleague.
• A goal next season – and you would fancy his chances – would take him past Larrazábal as the defender who has scored in the most successive Liga seasons.
• Sixteen of his 21 career red cards have come in the Liga – two off the league record of 18 held by Xavier Aguado and Pablo Alfaro.
• His eye for goal and Madrid’s love affair with the UEFA Champions League means he could become the first defender to find the net in three finals.