Picture Credits: RM Twitter
Sergio Ramos arrived at Real Madrid in 2005 with his parents as a 19-year-old teenager with a desire to play top level football in his eyes from Sevilla. On Thursday, he walked in at Santiago Bernabeu with his family as a 35-year-old to say goodbye to his home for the last 16 years of his life. In those 16 years, he lifted 22 trophies and scored 101 goals including winning UEFA Champions League four times. The fans wish this relationship could well have continued but fate has some other plans for him and he couldn’t do anything but accept and move on. Even from the onset, it looks a bit unfair and wrong to end like this, but in all honesty, the footballing world has never had a good record concerning ending ties and saying goodbye to the players involved.
Sergio Ramos is set to leave Real Madrid as his contract winds down and Real Madrid have rejected Sergio’s desire to extend his stay at the club for two more years indicating his desire to retire at his home. This decision will go down as an important moment in the club's history, not only for the significance of the player leaving but for the message it sends to any superstar who grows old at the club: ‘You do not run the show here, regardless of what your name is’. This serves as a mandate to every player, be it the ones currently involved or the ones who will join the club in the future that – ‘No one is irreplaceable at the club. Their spot in the squad will always be up for grabs if they don’t perform.’ If Ramos and Cristiano Ronaldo don’t get to end their Real Madrid careers on their own terms, then no one will. Ramos could’ve been, and many individuals related to the club were entirely sure that he would be the exception to the rule but he wasn’t. Sergio Ramos’ career has always been built on fire, passion, and noise irrespective of him being on a playing field or not, but instead, he will bid farewell to his home of 16 years in silence, eventually pulling down curtains on a journey defined by midnight glory and emotion quietly.
Ramos is as much a part of Real Madrid and the Bernabéu as any player ever was. He embodies the famous slogan ‘Hasta el final, Vamos Real’ echoed around the stadium with fans all around the stadium chanting it in unison when Real Madrid is in need of some late magic. In those situations, Ramos was always there to answer the call and pull the team out from the rut. For example, in the 2014 Champions League final, as everyone believed Atleti had won their first Champions League title, Ramos rose to the occasion and scored a winning header to help Real Madrid clinch victory from the jaws of defeat, giving Los Blancos their first UCL title after a 12-year drought.
Sergio Ramos is not just an elite performer as a central defender for over a decade, but he’s also a spiritual leader that serves as a conduit for Real Madrid’s unique culture. It is hard to find a player similar to Sergio Ramos owing to his class and experience of numerous years on the field as a leader, making the task of replacing him a difficult one or nearly an impossible one instead. He is an integral part of Real Madrid’s identity on and off the field. It is a shame that the Santiago Bernabéu is unable to give its captain a proper goodbye because the fans, and the club itself, will be left with a giant hole in their hearts. One cannot speak of the dominance of Real Madrid and its romantic and beautiful history in the UEFA Champions League without mentioning the importance of their imperious captain, who was so crucial in defense and attack and has that aura to galvanize the team and make them ready to turn the tide in their favour.
Real Madrid is a unique club. At the Bernabeu, it is not just about winning, it is equally important to do it in style. ‘Madridismo’ as the term came to be known. It is your chest-thumping, aggressive, in-your-face attitude to winning and Ramos embodies each and every virtue mentioned above. Ramos is not wrong when he spoke about being an elite bullfighter if not a footballer. Either way, he definitely is meant to make Spain proud on the global sporting arena.
With the mentality of a modern-day Viking, Sergio Ramos is a type of player who goes into a game as if it’s a battle and isn’t afraid to get dirty with those 26 red cards being a testament to this fact. When the fans return to the Bernabéu and wave the giant white flag printed with a black No. 4 in all its glory, fans will first think of their all-important captain even though so many other greats have donned the same number. Even though, Ramos might be leaving Real Madrid physically and contractually, he will be off the books of Real Madrid, but, as he said in his press conference, it will never be goodbye as long as a Spanish heart beats in his chest and the spirit of being a Madridismo courses through his veins. You can no longer tell the history of Real Madrid Club de Futbol without using his name as someone wise rightly said ‘You can’t walk away from something that lives inside of you.’