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The best players rise to be counted in the most important moments. It is what separates them from the rest and what elevates them to world-class status.
Sergio Ramos has been checking that ‘clutch’ box for most of his career and continues to do so. With longevity and consistency, it has thus far delivered five League titles and four Champions Leagues.
Perhaps his most famous moment came in the 2014 Champions League final that he helped achieve the elusive Tenth de Real, ending a 12-year wait for the historic milestone.
That the final was against Atlético de la ciudad in the same year that Los Rojiblancos had been crowned champions of Spain for the first time since 1996 only contributed to the occasion. Atlético led more than half of the game after taking the lead in the first half and was seconds away from victory.
Ramos, as he has done so many times in his career, stepped in to change the course of the final. His 93 bullet header flew into the bottom corner to break Atlético’s hearts and send the game into extra time, during which Real won comfortably 4-1.
“There are defenders with extraordinary technical ability, others have unique defensive qualities, like Cannavaro, brilliant at scoring. Others, like Baresi, can dominate the baseline while others influence with strong personalities. But factor everything to evaluate a defender who is Sergio Ramos is the most complete. He has a bit of everything: technical ability, strength, personality and leadership. “
– Carlo Ancelotti,
In 2016, Ramos played Atlético again in the Champions League final. This time, he scored the opening goal, which was later disallowed, but it also turned into the penalty shoot-out.
Both key goals and defense have placed him on a pedestal as one of the all-time greats. It’s easy to count his goal numbers – more than 120 for the club and the country to date – a comeback many midfielders and even some forwards would be proud of. But often it is the nature and timing of their goals. The push for others that then comes from that impact makes it even more unique.
His team of goals in the Champions League final, Ramos, also scored two goals in four minutes in the second leg of the 2013/14 season semi-finals against Bayern Munich, irreversibly converting the tie. in favor of Real Madrid. At the time, it was the fastest double in the history of the Champions League semi-finals.
The first time he reached 10 goals in all competitions in a single season it was a late header to help his team beat Real Betis. Los Blancos won La Liga by just three points from Barcelona and it’s those kinds of small margins that Ramos has often made a difference.
In 2019/20, when Real Madrid reclaimed the Spanish title from Barcelona, it scored double digits in a league campaign for the first time. His team won nine of the 11 games in which he found the net and added 29 points out of 33 possible. Without him, it would not have happened.
More specifically, Ramos scored four goals in five games in a streak towards the end of the campaign that led Real directly to the title – all four were in the second half of narrow wins.
This is a player who knows no fear and is driven by an unwavering desire to win. Before emerging as a Champions League hero for Real Madrid in the mid-2010s, Ramos scored a Panenka penalty on the Euro 2012 penalty shootout against Portugal as Spain retained their title; he had previously been part of the teams that won Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup, his first test of real dominance.
What made that moment all the more remarkably brave is that Ramos had missed a decisive penalty in the Champions League semi-final shootout against Bayern Munich just a few months earlier.
“I wake up every day with the same desire to continue improving that I had since I was a child. I do not seek recognition. All I want to do every year is to do even better, forget what we have gained and pose new challenges. “
– Sergio Ramos
Ramos will never shy away from a challenge and stands behind himself at all times. In his opinion, mistakes early in his career were important learning opportunities that have shaped him ever since.
When asked in 2014 during a FourFourTwo question and answer session if he thinks the world is for the brave, the player replied: “That’s what they say. I have never had a problem in that regard. I think you learn more in bad times and that mistakes make you stronger ”.
These days, his reputation as a hard-hitting winner precedes him. This was reflected in 2018 when he disposed of the claims made to him following Real Madrid’s victory over Liverpool in another Champions League final, after being accused of deliberately injuring Mohamed Salah, ending his participation and giving goalkeeper Loris Karius a concussion before his catastrophic mistakes. .
Talking about it shortly after, Ramos hinted that he would have continued playing had he been in the same situation as Salah that night, pushing through the barrier of pain.
“[Salah] first he grabs my arm and I fall to the other side, the injury happened to the other arm and they said I gave him a judo grip ”, he commented.
“Afterward, the goalkeeper said that I stunned him with a crash. I just need [Roberto] I signed by saying that he caught a cold because a drop of my sweat fell on him.
“[Salah] I could have played if I had received an injection for the second half, I have done it sometimes. But when Ramos does something like that, he sticks a bit more. I don’t know if it’s because you’ve been in Madrid for so long and you earn so much that people see it differently ”.
Trophies distinguish Ramos from the majority. But the mentality makes him be alone.