Sergio Ramos reached 100 goals for Real Madrid as they beat Inter Milan… so after 25 trophies for club and country, countless crucial goals and inspirational performances, should we consider him the best defender EVER?
- Sergio Ramos brought up a century of goals for Real Madrid in Inter Milan win
- The 34-year-old continues to make crucial interventions to help save his team
- He has been an influential figure pushing Real and Spain towards glory
- Ramos has won 22 honours with Real as well as three international tournaments
- France Football magazine readers voted him the greatest defender of all time
You would be hard pressed to find a Spanish football fan who doesn’t think Sergio Ramos is the country’s greatest-ever defender.
After all, Ramos was there as a right back when Spain ended their 44-year wait for a major title by winning Euro 2008.
He was there two years later, again as a right back, when Spain claimed their first World Cup.
Sergio Ramos celebrates after scoring in Real Madrid’s 3-2 win over Inter Milan on Tuesday
Ramos headed home Real’s second goal in a Champions League match they had to win
And he was there in the centre of defence in 2012 when they made it an unprecedented three straight tournament wins.
He was there in 2014 when Real Madrid became the first team to win 10 European Cups. And, let’s face it, they wouldn’t have done it without his 93rd-minute equaliser.
And Ramos was there in Milan, in Cardiff and in Kiev as Real did it again and again and again.
So the latest landmark reached by the 34-year-old on Tuesday night, as he scored his 100th goal for Real in their 3-2 Champions League win over Inter Milan, is simply further embellishment to a remarkable career.
Centre-halves obviously aren’t noted for their goalscoring, though it is a handy trait for any team, so to bring up a century is hugely impressive.
Lifting the World Cup with Spain in 2010 is the crowning glory of a hugely successful career
Ramos celebrates Real’s Champions League triumph in 2018 – for the third year in succession
It begs the question – is Ramos the greatest defender of all time?
The readers of France Football magazine certainly think so. In a survey, 68 per cent of voters answered ‘yes’ to that very question.
It probably depends on which era of football you are most familiar with. While Ramos is unquestionably the highest achiever of the 21st century, there will be older acolytes of Bobby Moore, Franz Beckenbauer, Franco Baresi, Marcel Desailly, Daniel Passarella, Matthias Sammer, Paolo Maldini, Fabio Cannavaro and others.
But the case for Ramos grows ever stronger. With 23 goals in 175 matches for his country, Ramos is the top scoring defender in the history of international football.
He is also the top scoring defender in the history of LaLiga, having overtaken Ronald Koeman’s tally of 67 back in June. Ramos currently stands on 72.
World Cup winners Bobby Moore (left) and Franz Beckenbauer (right) are considered the greatest defenders of all time by football fans of a certain age
Marcel Desailly (left), World Cup winner with France in 1998, and Fabio Cannavaro (right), who won it with Italy in 2006, are also considered great defenders of the modern age
Ramos: The trophies
World Cup 2010
European Championship 2008, 2012
Champions League 2013-14, 2015-16, 2016-17, 2017-18
UEFA Super Cup 2014, 2016, 2017
FIFA Club World Cup 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018
LaLiga 2006-07, 2007-08, 2011-12, 2016-17, 2019-20
Copa del Rey 2010-11, 2013-14
Supercopa de Espana 2008, 2012, 2017, 2019-20
Obviously Koeman, the current Barcelona manager, spent much of his career in midfield and didn’t spend as long in Spanish football.
Goals are simply a bonus for any defender, though. What really counts is influence, leadership and, at the very highest level, silverware.
Ramos has won 22 trophies with Real and three with Spain, certainly enough to put him up there with the finest defenders of all time.
This includes the World Cup, two European Championships, four Champions League crowns, three UEFA Super Cups, four FIFA Club World Cups, five LaLiga titles, two Spanish Cups and four Spanish Super Cups.
Ramos does trail his Spain defensive partner Gerard Pique, however, who has racked up 32 honours with Barcelona and his country.
Admirers will point to the important interventions of Ramos, who scored that last-gasp equaliser against Atletico Madrid in the 2014 Champions League final and also scored against the same opponents in the 2016 final.
Five of his century of goals have come in Clasico encounters against Barcelona, including an 82nd-minute winner and a 90th-minute leveller.
The defender has lifted the European Cup four times during a distinguished career with Real
His stoppage-time equaliser against Atletico Madrid in 2014 was one of many crucial goals
Ramos broke Atletico hearts again in 2016 by scoring in the Champions League final in Milan
Five of his century of goals have come against rivals Barcelona, including one just last month
23 goals for Spain make Ramos the highest scoring defender in international football
But his former club Sevilla have actually suffered most at his hands, with seven goals, followed by Atletico and Athletic Bilbao with six each.
Ramos brought up his century of goals in his 659th game for Real. Fourth on the all-time list, he is closing in on Manuel Sanchis (710), Iker Casillas (725) and Raul (741) and should catch them if he can get another couple of seasons.
That remains eminently possible while Ramos remains so crucial to Real and their manager Zinedine Zidane.
He played in 44 matches last season – missing just three in their successful league campaign – and recorded a career-best 13 goals. Taking on penalty responsibility has helped swell his total.
His goal against Inter helped salvage a Champions League campaign that already looked in jeopardy after a defeat to Shakhtar Donetsk and a draw with Borussia Monchengladbach.
Take Ramos out of the team and Real often fold. They did it against Shakhtar and also against Manchester City in last season’s Champions League, when Ramos was sent off in the first leg for a professional foul on Gabriel Jesus and missed the return.
He has never been perfect defensively. Ramos is occasionally rash and poorly positioned, but at 34 and nearly 17 years after his debut for Sevilla in February 2004, he is still the best out there.
Real suffered in his absence after a red card against Manchester City in last season’s last-16
Zinedine Zidane knows his important to the team and wanted Ramos to sign a new contract
It’s why Zidane was unequivocal when asked whether Ramos would extend his contract beyond its expiry at the end of this season.
‘As always, he is our captain, our leader. We want him here forever, it is what he is doing, showing that he always wants to. I have no doubt that he will stay and that it will continue to make history.’
Indeed, Ramos and Real Madrid have reportedly now started talks over a new contract.
Ramos is out of contract at the Bernabeu next summer and would be able to talk to overseas clubs about a possible free transfer in January.
Reports in Spain suggested Real want to stick to their policy of handing only 12-month deals to players over the age of 30.
But ESPN also claim Ramos wants to stay until June 2024, meaning he would need a new three-year contract and would be at the club until he is the ripe old age of 38.
Zidane, it seems, would side with his star centre back.
Most Spaniards would argue he is the best defender there has ever been and there is an increasing number around the world that would agree with them.
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