Sergio Ramos could also be leaving Actual Madrid, however what he has achieved at Santiago Bernabeu is written indelibly into the membership’s historical past.
One of many sport’s greatest personalities, brimming with ego however boasting the standard to again it up, Ramos will finish an period in white on Thursday.
No matter clarification Ramos offers at his goodbye press convention, nevertheless twisted and taut the connection between the defender and president Florentino Perez turned at occasions, it doesn’t bitter his legend on the membership.
Neither does the 35-year-old’s final 12 months on the sidelines, regardless that this quiet farewell is just not a becoming finish to a blockbuster profession within the Spanish capital.
And whereas the legend tag is usually overused, for Ramos it might not even go far sufficient.
The Andalusian performed for Actual Madrid for 16 seasons, in a complete of 671 video games, scoring a outstanding 101 targets and lifting 22 trophies. Solely Paco Gento (23) has extra, profitable these within the Fifties and ’60s. The six European cups he received can’t be in comparison with the 4 Ramos has lifted, which have been achieved underneath far larger competitors within the trendy period.
Because the European Cup turned the Champions League in 1992, no facet had managed to win it for 2 seasons in a row, till Ramos captained Madrid to 3 consecutive trophies, between 2016 and 2018.
And but, maybe his best particular person effort was of their 2014 triumph.
It was Ramos’ header within the 93rd minute that compelled the Champions League closing with rivals Atletico Madrid into additional time, sparking Actual’s comeback to win their desperately craved tenth European Cup — La Decima. Madrid had waited over a decade for it, and Ramos was the person who made it doable.
That’s why the numbers don’t do him justice, as spectacular as they’re. Plainly, they present his worth to Madrid over the previous 16 years, however they can not inform the underlying story.
The story of denying their neighbors the possibility to carry the trophy for the primary time. The fixed battles with Barcelona, Ramos’ half within the Clasico rivalry, the numerous inspirational messages to supporters, bleeding white, not crimson, for the membership.
“Ramos is what I name a character chief,” former — and present — Actual Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti wrote in his e book “Quiet Management.” “A frontrunner with robust character, who isn’t scared, by no means nervous, and all the time constructive.”
Ramos’ wild chaos, his visceral model of defending, might be missed. That’s what he brings as captain and what numbers can not hope to inform — although some will level to his profession tally of 26 crimson playing cards to at the very least shine some gentle on his combative nature.
He fought his manner into the middle of protection after enjoying as proper again in his early years on the membership, however as soon as he earned his place, he was unattainable to shift.
A superb defender and but a greater chief, Ramos’ story is not going to be instructed in clear sheets however in moments and in feeling, in Panenka penalties and last-ditch sliding tackles. In that aim in opposition to Atletico but additionally the 2 headers in 4 minutes in opposition to Bayern Munich within the semifinal second leg in 2014, that took Madrid to their first Champions League closing for 12 years.
After that, it has been arduous to maintain them out of it.
There might be loads of Actual Madrid followers not sufficiently old to recollect the group with out Ramos in it, and several other extra who merely can not, regardless of their age.
It was September 2005 when Ramos made his debut for Madrid, as an alternative underneath coach Wanderley Luxemburgo, changing Francisco Pavon in a 3-2 defeat by Celta Vigo on the Bernabeu. There have been excessive hopes for him then, having arrived for €27 million from Sevilla, however he has surpassed each expectation by a distance.
It was in 2010 that he cemented his place within the coronary heart of the protection, as Pepe struggled with a knee downside. Half a decade later, and he had already cemented legend standing, earlier than the treble of Champions League wins had even begun.
That summer season, Ramos toyed with leaving, probably becoming a member of Manchester United, though he finally used their curiosity to eke extra money from Madrid. The temper turned in opposition to him within the capital, however solely very briefly. Going to struggle with Perez doesn’t upset a fan base who’ve typically chanted for the president to resign.
It’s simply as effectively for Madrid he didn’t, enjoying a significant function alongside Raphael Varane underneath Zinedine Zidane. Ramos has performed underneath 12 completely different coaches, 13 when you rely Zidane in his second spell as effectively.
He performed with the identical aggression all through his profession, as Mohamed Salah bore witness to within the 2018 Champions League closing, with Ramos’ unorthodox problem forcing the Liverpool star from the pitch, smoothing Madrid’s path towards one other trophy.
“He’s our captain, our chief. We would like him right here eternally,” mentioned Zidane earlier than Christmas. However the coach is gone, and now Ramos follows.
Sure, purely as a defender, there have been a number of higher. As for sheer expertise, Cristiano Ronaldo is above him, Alfredo di Stefano too, in addition to Zidane.
However as a Twenty first-century Actual Madrid icon, there are none grander than their everlasting captain.
Whereas Ronaldo belongs not solely to Los Blancos but additionally to Manchester United, Ramos is 110 p.c Madrid’s, regardless of his Sevilla roots — and it doesn’t matter what the subsequent chapter has in retailer.