Ronaldo dribbles, runs, and scores! Messi did it again! Neymar – the winning goal! We have all heard those cries on football pitches: the star striker saves the day yet once again. But in reality, there are still ten men on the field, and as the saying goes – attack wins you games, defense wins you titles.
To correct the injustice of the (football) world, we invite you to a ten–part series with Olybet.TV, where we talk about defenders. But to make things a little more appetizing, let’s talk about the most productive defensemen in football history.
The hero of our story today is Sergio Ramos, who needs no introduction to football lovers. However, it is worth noting (in advance) that together with James Tavernier, the Spaniard is one of the two active players who are among the ten most effective defensive players in history.
A quick breakthrough in Seville
Born in Camas, near Seville, the full–back made his first acquaintance with football in a small town with 27,000 inhabitants when he joined Camas CF training at the age of six. Soon, however, he caught the eye of Sevilla FC scouts and moved on to the system there.
In the new club, Ramos did not need any adaptation time but quickly became the mainstay of the team, sharing the captain’s armband with another later member of the Spanish national team, Jesus Navaro. The defender first joined Sevilla’s main team’s training in the 2003/04 season, aged just 16, and made his La Liga debut in February the same year.
In the following 2004/05 season Ramos – although only 17 years old – was already the main man for Sevilla, representing them 42 times in all leagues and also scoring three goals.
One of those goals was scored against Real Madrid, which slightly contributed to the fact that the Spanish royal club came to court Ramos the following summer. Sevilla was offered 27 million euros for the teenage defender, and their reply was: “Thank you!”.
By the way, Ramos was the only Spanish addition to Real president Florentino Perez’s first term – affectionately known as the Galactico period because of his luxury purchases!
Becomes a king at Real
Maybe because of this, but Ramos quickly became the main man in Madrid as well. In the first two seasons, he mainly played the role of central defender, but in between, he also played as a lower midfielder. In the 2007/08 season, after the acquisition of Pepe and Christoph Metzelder, the Spaniard was moved to right back, where he also performed brilliantly.
As a reliable full–back, Ramos found himself in Real’s captain’s circle by the summer of 2009 – while being still just 23 years old – but on the pitch, he continued to play the full–back role. Only Pepe’s injury in the autumn of the same year allowed him to prove himself in central defense again. And the rest, as they say, is history…
Those red cards
As a side note: while we praise Ramos’ goal–scoring instincts and skills in this article, he actually has another rather unique quality. He is a fighter! A ferocious fighter who won’t back down from any duel.
As a result, in November 2010, in just five seasons, he also became Real’s red card record holder. It’s just that for Ramos, it took 264 matches less to reach the same level as Fernando Hierro.
In total, he has 171 yellow cards and 20 red cards in La Liga so far: both are Spanish league records.
But that was also something that suited Real. As an ardent fighter, Ramos helped to keep things in order regarding defense at any cost, which is why he quickly acquired the title of one of the most hated players in the world. But that hatred was prevalent only in the opposing fans’ camp – his own crowd loved the central defender more and more fervently.
Most goals = headers
In total, Ramos spent 15 and a half seasons at Real, representing them in a total of 671 matches and scoring 101 goals. His most successful season was 2019/20, when he netted 13 times across all series. He also reached double figures in 2018/19 (11 goals) and 2016/17 (10 goals).
But how did Ramos get to 101 hits? The short answer is: by good instinct. Namely, he headed more than half of his goals – 55, to be precise! It is also significant that as many as 23 hits were made in extra time, when Real really, really needed a goal!
Another thing Ramos is remembered for is penalties, but in reality, the Spaniard didn’t score that many of them at all: just 22. From time to time, he was also allowed to take free kicks, which resulted in a goal on two occasions.
An obstacle named Ronaldo
Truth be told, Ramos could have scored more for the Spanish club, but he didn’t have the (main) right to take penalties until 2018. Why? In the past, Real’s shirt was simply worn by a bigger star – Cristiano Ronaldo – whose career conversion percentage is a respectable 83%.
Right now, in hindsight, we can, of course, wonder – maybe Ramos should have been preferred, as his 11–meter penalty kick conversion percentage for Real was as high as 95%!
Indeed, Ramos missed just one penalty in the club’s shirt: against Sevilla in May 2018. So, who knows, maybe Real would have won even more in the last decade by giving Ramos the right to strike…
Or not, because as the saying goes – there are small lies, big lies, and statistics. Ramos was not a very good penalty taker in the Spanish national team’s shirt. He had as many as 4 errors in 12 shots, including 2 in one game (against Switzerland in 2020).
Ramos’ highlights against Switzerland:
Despite this, the defender still scored well for the Spanish national team: a total of 23 times, including 15 from open play (not from the penalty spot).
Some basic math for a conclusion: if you add three for Sevilla and six for Paris Saint-Germain to Real’s 101 and Spain’s 23, you’ll have 132 goals as Ramos’ career total. Not bad at all for a defender.
Sergio Ramos’ goals: