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Sergio Ramos: How brilliant is the Real Madrid captain?

A giant for Spain and Real Madrid, Sergio Ramos is still going strong.

Sergio Ramos has served Madrid superbly for 16 years
Sergio Ramos has served Madrid superbly for 16 years Getty Images

A winner of four UEFA Champions League titles, five Ligas, UEFA EURO 2008 and 2012, and the 2010 FIFA World Cup, defender Sergio Ramos is a modern great for Real Madrid and Spain.

Celebrate his achievements with UEFA.com.

What they say

"Ramos doesn't surprise me. It's what he has – a big personality. He's always there, always encouraging players and he never drops his guard. He never gives up."
Zinédine Zidane, Real Madrid coach

Watch Sergio Ramos' 2014 Champions League final goal
Watch Sergio Ramos' 2014 Champions League final goal

"There are defenders with extraordinary technical ability, others have unique defensive qualities – like [Fabio] Cannavaro, brilliant at marking. Others, like [Franco] Baresi, can command a back line while others influence with strong personalities. But factoring everything together to evaluate a defender then Sergio Ramos is the most complete. He's got a bit of everything: technical ability, strength, personality and leadership."
Carlo Ancelotti, former Real Madrid coach

"He defends well, can play, and manages all facets of the game. He's a very complete footballer."
Thiago Silva, Chelsea defender

"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, Atlético de Madrid forward

Career tally*

Ramos watches back his 2014 and 2016 final goals
Ramos watches back his 2014 and 2016 final goals

International: 179 appearances, 23 goals
UEFA club competition: 138 appearances, 18 goals
Domestic competition: 602 appearances, 85 goals

*Has also made six appearances for Madrid in the FIFA Club World Cup

Claims to fame

Sevilla & Real Madrid
• His transfer from Sevilla to Madrid for €27m in 2005, when aged 19, is still a record for a Spanish teenager.

• Ramos has scored in 17 consecutive Liga campaigns – a record for a defender. He netted 13 goals in all competitions for Real Madrid in 2019/20, a personal best for a single season.

• Part of an elite group of defenders to have scored in two different European Cup finals, Ramos is the only one to have done so in the UEFA Champions League era. His strikes in the 2014 and 2016 finals, both against Atlético, put him alongside Tommy Gemmell (1967, 1970) and Phil Neal (1977, 1984).

• His added-time equaliser in the 2016 UEFA Super Cup against boyhood team Sevilla means he has scored in the final of the UEFA Champions League, FIFA Club World Cup and UEFA Super Cup. Not bad for a centre-back.

History maker Ramos on three in a row
History maker Ramos on three in a row

• Became Spain's youngest full international for 55 years when making 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.

• Was a regular as Spain won UEFA EURO 2008, the 2010 World Cup and UEFA EURO 2012; he revealed a t-shirt in honour of his ex-Sevilla team-mate Antonio Puerta, who died suddenly in 2007, when celebrating both EURO wins. He wears Puerta's No15 shirt for Spain (as opposed to his usual No4 for Real Madrid).

• With David de Gea picked ahead of Iker Casillas, Ramos captained Spain at UEFA EURO 2016 and has remained skipper since.

• Overtook Casillas's record of 167 caps for Spain in October 2019's 1-1 draw with Norway in UEFA EURO 2020 qualifying. Became the most-capped European player of all time when he took his tally to 177 in a November 2020 game against Switzerland, overtaking Italy's Gianluigi Buffon.

Ramos reflects on 100-goal milestone for Real Madrid
Ramos reflects on 100-goal milestone for Real Madrid

What you might not know

• Has the ignominious title of Madrid's most prolific recipient of red cards, having been dismissed a club-record 26 times in all competitions. He has been sent off in a record five Clásico fixtures, most recently as Barcelona won 3-2 in Madrid in April 2017.

• Earned a record 19th Liga red card in a 0-0 draw with Athletic in December 2017, breaking the record of 18 previously shared with Xavier Aguado and Pablo Alfaro. He has since taken his tally to 20 sendings-off in the Liga, while his dismissal against Manchester City in the 2019/20 round of 16 was his fourth in the Champions League.

• Ramos is not unfamiliar with charity work and in 2014 was appointed one of Spain's national ambassadors to UNICEF.

Sergio Ramos has quite the tattoo collection
Sergio Ramos has quite the tattoo collection©Getty Images

• An aficionado of body art, he has four 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; and 90+ represents his stoppage-time equaliser against Atlético, when Madrid went on to lift their tenth 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 proclaimed Andalusian Champion 2016; another, Yecutan SR4, was a world champion in 2018.

• Has four sons, Sergio, Marco, Alejandro and Maximo Adriano; he married their mother, television presenter Pilar Rubio, on 15 June 2019.

What he says

"I get up every day with the same desire to keep improving which I've had 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. 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 at our club."

"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."

Watch five goals from Sergio Ramos
Watch five goals from Sergio Ramos

"I'm happy if I'm a role model. I think I've fought and sacrificed a lot, so that when I retire I can do so with my conscience clear, after having won everything there is to win."

"I would like to carry on playing [for Spain] for many more years. I'm going to have to go to Qatar [for the 2022 World Cup] with a grey beard if necessary."

What he might achieve yet

• Become the first player to win three EUROs; he is the only member of the UEFA EURO 2008 team still in the Roja ranks.

• His eye for goal and Madrid's love affair with the UEFA Champions League mean he could become the first defender to score in three finals.

• Reach 150 UEFA Champions League outings? He is on 128 right now. He also needs two more winner's medals to equal Francisco Gento's record of six: if he plays on until he is 36, he has a chance.

• Become the world's most-capped player. Former Egypt winger Ahmed Hassan's world record of 184 is his next target, and he could pass that mark at UEFA EURO 2020.