The Financial Express

La Decima legacy and the legend of Sergio Ramos

February 9, 2019 Real Madrid's Sergio Ramos celebrates scoring their second goal with Lucas Vazquez Reuters/Susana Vera February 9, 2019 Real Madrid's Sergio Ramos celebrates scoring their second goal with Lucas Vazquez Reuters/Susana Vera

World football is right now buzzing with discussions related to Sergio Ramos’s official announcement to leave Real Madrid. The legendary Madrid captain is finally putting off the famous white shirt after seasons of weaker speculations that gained ground this year.

Earlier when Zinedine Zidane left the club, Madrid fans were already anticipating something unfortunate, finding similarities to the previous incident of Zidane’s farewell, when Ronaldo followed the exit door after the coach. Zidane’s farewell pattern matched the previous instance and this time, another Real Madrid prodigy, Sergio Ramos, is now leaving the club due to contract extension issues.

Although Ramos refused to accept the initial 1 year contract offered by the club, he later agreed to accept it with a paycut. But weirdly enough, the contract offer had an expiry date and the club showed indifference in offering a new contract later. Many found it related to the David Alaba signing. The initial offer ended on the same date as Alaba’s inclusion was announced and the case could very well be related to the club's finances. Paying EUR 12 million to two players in the same position is difficult, even for a big club like Real Madrid.

“I will always carry you in my heart. Nothing will ever be like what I have lived here,” said the Madrid and Spain captain during his official farewell press conference.

While Ramos promises to return soon, the legacy he is leaving behind will forever cement his position at the club as its best captain. Sixteen years at the club, 671 matches and 22 titles, including five La Liga and four UCL trophies - Ramos won everything. He also has 101 goals to his name, proving to be one of the most prolific defenders ever. His impeccable heading ability, beautiful Panenka shots and crucial moment breakthrough along with his defensive mastery make him one of the best clutch players ever, if not the best.

Paddling stats won’t say how influential Ramos had been for Real Madrid. He stepped in whenever the team was reeling from the edge. He has too many crucial goals that not only won the match for his team, but also impacted the whole season and led to titles.

One can remember his winning strike against Valencia in 2007 along with the header against Barcelon leading to a draw. These goals ensured Real Madrid La Liga title that season. And who can forget that famous header vs Sevilla in Uefa super cup final in 2016? Everything emulated the La Decima pattern as Ramos scored on 92.34 minutes that forced the match into extra time, and then, Real Madrid all the way. And the brace against Bayern in the 2014 UCL semifinals was literally a sweet redemption to their previous meeting in 2012 UCL, another semifinal which Real Madrid lost 1-3 in a penalty shootout. However, it is the La Decima goal in UCL 2014 final that puts Ramos's name in the stars.

Atletico made the first strike in that game. With Godin’s goal, they kept Real at bay for the whole stipulated 90 minutes. As the additional time started, the men in white shirts perhaps heard the bugle sounds. Thousands of fans in Lisbon’s Estádio da Luz were in disbelief, Ancelotti seemed dying inside, Casillas praying to God for a miracle at the other end of the pitch while all his teammates were pushing to create something till the ultimate seconds; only the footballing God was chuckling before the penultimate moment to give the La Decima script a perfect ending for Real Madrid, indeed for Ramos.

And then it happened, the poetic moment, the climax of the epic, turning back from the edge of the world like a fairytale. Sergio Ramos scored the goal of his life in the 93rd minute, forcing the match into extra time. The next 30 minutes were nothing but formalities. The final minute goal from Ramos gave Real Madrid such momentum that no team in the world could stop them from winning the title. That goal at the 92.48 minute changed the course of history for Real Madrid, shaping the foundation of their European dominance afterwards.

While we are talking about his goals and leadership, we often forget how great he is as a defender. Last year when Real Madrid clinched their 34th La Liga title, Ramos, along with scoring crucial goals, made several goal line saves that proved priceless at the end of the season. His defensive prowess was appreciated by none other than the best defender ever, Paolo Maldini, who saw Ramos as his heir back in 2009. Making it to the FIFAPro World11 and UEFA Team of The Year for record 11 and 9 times respectively, only behind Ronaldo and Messi, speaks volumes about his defensive mastery.

Sergio Ramos is one name, but countless moments and millions of fans’ emotions. He has won everything a player can for a club, at Real Madrid. There might not be a statue of Ramos in Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, but as long as his Spanish heart beats, it will resonate with fans in Bernabeu’s gallery applauding their very own captain, the gladiator.

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