There is no doubting Sergio Ramos’ ability. Since joining Real Madrid from Sevilla in 2005, the central defender has seen success after success, both individually and as part of a team. Ramos possesses all the traits required of a quality member of the back line and this is why he is regarded as one of the best defenders in the world – his strength and aerial ability, his pace and technical play, his passion and aggression.
Of course, at the other end of the spectrum, it’s this aggression that has sparked one of the worst disciplinary records. Not only is Ramos the most sent-off player in La Liga history, but also the most-carded player in both Champions League history and in the history of the Spanish national team.
However, since taking over the captaincy from Iker Casillas ahead of the 2015-16 season, Ramos has exemplified what it means to wear the armband, to lead the team, to offer guidance to new and younger players. He is a born leader and it shows. But above all, El Capitán is an all-rounder. His height makes him a constant threat at set pieces, he has an eye for goal and he excels both defensively and offensively, making him the perfect player.
The 33-year-old’s contract runs out in 2021 and he is yet to sign a new one-year extension – but has recently claimed that it could be sorted out within ‘five minutes’. He’s made over 600 appearances for Los Blancos in all competitions, including over 500 La Liga appearances, and just last month, celebrated his 400th win in the famous white strip, as Real beat his boyhood club Sevilla, 1-0.
The 2013-14 Champions League Final was a special one for both the club and Ramos personally. For Real, their extra-time win over neighbours (and rivals) Atlético Madrid saw them reach their tenth European title, an achievement known in Spain as La Décima. For Ramos, it was his first taste of glory in the Champions League and he capped it off with a goal – but they don’t come more important than his 93rd minute equaliser, which sent the game to extra time, with Real going on to win 4-1 after an additional 30 minutes.
It has been five seasons since then and in that time, Ramos has lifted the Champions League trophy on a further three occasions – although Champions League odds don’t favour Los Blancos too highly this season. With four European successes to his name, as well as four La Liga titles and two-time winners of the Copa del Rey, Ramos’ number of major trophies also stands at ten, or 13 if you include the three Supercopa de España wins.
Slightly more impressive than Ramos’ achievements as part of a team, are his individual honours. Last month, the winners of the The Best FIFA Football Awards 2019 were announced and once again, the Spaniard found himself in the FIFA FIFPro World XI, making it his tenth win. He first won the award as part of the 2008 team, and Ramos has won a place in the World XI every year from 2011 to 2019.
An accolade that sees him sit third in the most appearances by player, behind who else but Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, who both have made the list 13 times – Ramos finds himself ahead of the likes of Andrés Iniesta and Gianluigi Buffon, a real testament to his determination and ability.
Winning the award for nine consecutive seasons shows a real level of consistency. However, Ramos was more focused on Real having a more successful season than last year, in which they only won the Club World Cup. “I’d prefer to not come here and for Real Madrid to win titles,” Ramos said. “If I’d wanted to win individual titles, then I’d have dedicated myself to tennis. When the team wins, we always win. It wasn’t a good season last year, but it’s a good sign that Real Madrid have players in the XI.”
If Real wish to win silverware this campaign, Ramos will be instrumental. Just last season, we saw Los Blancos underperform in the Champions League and interestingly, El Capitán was absent from all three defeats: home and away versus CSKA Moscow in the group stages; and the round of 16 second leg tie against Ajax.