A giant for Spain and Real Madrid, defender Sergio Ramos celebrates his birthday on Saturday.
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A winner of four UEFA Champions League titles, four Ligas, UEFA EURO 2008 and 2012, and the 2010 FIFA World Cup among a phalanx of trophies, Sergio Ramos was UEFA Champions League Defender of the Season for 2017 and 2018 and an eight-time UEFA.com fans' Team of the Year pick. UEFA.com wishes him many happy returns on his 33rd birthday.
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
"There are defenders with extraordinary technical ability, others have unique defensive qualities – like Cannavaro, brilliant at marking. Others, like 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 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, Paris 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: 162 appearances, 18 goals
UEFA club competition: 129 appearances, 14 goals
Domestic competition: 529 appearances, 75 goals
*Has also made six appearances for Madrid in the FIFA Club World Cup
Claims to fame
• Became Spain's youngest full international for 55 years when making his debut four days before his 19th birthday, which he promptly 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; revealed a t-shirt in honour of his ex-Sevilla team-mate Antonio Puerta, who died suddenly in 2007, as he celebrated both his EURO wins. He wears Puerta's No15 shirt for Spain (as opposed to his usual No4 for Real Madrid).
• 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 still a record for a Spanish teenager.
• Ramos has scored in 15 consecutive Liga campaigns – a record for a defender. He has 11 goals in all competitions for Real Madrid in 2018/19 (eight of them penalties), a personal best for a single season.
• 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 UEFA Champions League era. His strikes in the 2014 and 2016 finals, 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.
What you might not know
• Holds the ignominious title of Madrid's most prolific collector of red cards, having been dismissed a club-record 25 times in all competitions. He has been sent off in a record five Clásico fixtures, most recently when 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 by Xavier Aguado and Pablo Alfaro.
• 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 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 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 proclaimed Andalusian Champion 2016; another, Yecutan SR4, was a world champion in 2018.
• Has three sons: Sergio, Marco and Alejandro; he got engaged to their mother, television presenter Pilar Rubio, in 2018.
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. 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."
"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 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
• With 604 appearances for Real Madrid, he is fourth in the club's all-time appearances ranking, behind Manolo Sanchís (710), Casillas (725) and Raúl González (741). Still time to reach top spot?
• Spain's second-highest cap holder, he is just five shy of Casillas's record of 167. However, at 33, he still has every chance of usurping his old mate.
• His eye for goal and Madrid's love affair with the UEFA Champions League means he could become the first defender to score in three finals.
• Reach 150 UEFA Champions League outings? He is on 119 at the moment. He also needs just two more UEFA Champions League winners medals to match Francisco Gento's record of six: he won't win another one this season, but (if he plays on until he is 36), he has a chance.
• Become the first player to win three EUROs; he is the only member of the UEFA EURO 2008-winning team still in the Roja ranks.