La Roja teammates on Sergio Ramos (I)
Here’s a bit more from Sergio Ramos’ biography, from the chapter “How they see him,” where many of Sergio’s current and former coaches and teammates, plus friends, wrote what they think about him. Here are the thoughts of some of the La Roja players and staff: Fernando Torres, Raúl Albiol, Vicente del Bosque, Jesús Navas and Albert Luque.
When Sergio and I began getting to know each other some time ago, I noticed that he had clear values and a frank personality, and that he was loyal to his ideas and would defend them in front of anyone. You could tell that at the age of 18, he already knew what he wanted. It wasn’t a matter of rebelling, it was a matter of principles. It bothers him when people have a wrong opinion of him, and that’s something I can relate to.
Sergio always tells you things to your face. He defends his ideas. He says everything that he’s thinking and he won’t let you twist his arm easily. He’s had problems with some coaches but not because he didn’t know what steps to take and who was in charge, which he knows clearly and is the first one to respect, but because he defends his ideas.
Take Luis Aragonés, for example. In the first Eurocopa, they had a face to face exchange of opinions in front of their teammates. Luis helped Sergio a lot and Sergio knows that, but on the day that he believed the míster had violated the code, he said so. Perhaps this is why we’ve always understood each other well. I believe we’re similar. We like the same things and the same things bother us.
We’ve had media attention focused on us since we were very young and we know what happens. I have probably seen him and spoken with him less since I moved to England, but it’s not necessary to speak every day to maintain a friendship, and we have that. It’s a two-way friendship. He knows that he can count on me for whatever he needs and I know that he’ll always be there to help me if I need it.
I believe he will be one of the leaders of the national team and of his team, if he’s not already. In football terms, he has everything, physique and technique. The secret of his success is in his head. Other players have the same qualities but don’t get to where he has. You have to be very strong to take a Panenka-style penalty in the Eurocopa after failing one in the Champions League. I would never have done that. I missed four or five with Atlético and if I’m called to take one, I just want to make sure that it will go in. If he fails, he’ll just try again and he’ll take it with the same confidence. This confidence, this head, is what you should never lose. I’m envious, in this sense, of the tremendous personality that he has.
One day, we had an altercation, when I was with Atlético. He was sent off after a play against me. He put his hand in my face and they showed him a second yellow card. I fell and I wasn’t acting. It was in the Bernabéu. He scolded me saying it wasn’t that serious, that I had deliberately fallen. He had put his finger in my eye, I don’t know how he wanted me to react.
Before the World Cup in Germany, we had another altercation during a free day. All of a sudden, he came towards me, grabbed my shirt and backed me up against the wall. He thought I had played a dirty trick on him. I swore and I swore that I had not done anything. He took me to his room. Someone had left him a “little gift” on the minibar. We went to my room and I had received the same “gift.” We figured that someone else had done it. That’s why I always liked to be his ally, next to him, so he won’t trick me. But he doesn’t have any wickedness, and he always knows who he can play jokes on and who he can’t.
I would always want Sergio on my team. He’s never going to leave you hanging or disappoint you. If Madrid doesn’t want him, I know where he can go…
Vicente del Bosque.
He would go to the ends of the earth for you, both in football and on a personal level. I would highlight his ambition, but it’s a healthy, positive ambition. He knows where he wants to get to and I have no doubts he will get there. You can tell that he’s been well taught, that he has grown alongside players such as Raúl, Iker or Xabi Alonso, who broke records. He wants to continue on this path.
He’s on the verge of reaching 100 games with the national team. It’s a big deal because of the age at which he’ll accomplish it and because he’ll get to where he wants to, as he works every day for that. He’s always happy to play for the national team and he never holds back.
He has evolved a lot and in all aspects of the game, including physical, technical and emotional. He’s gotten more well-rounded and he has a great future ahead of him. It’s almost scary to think about how far he can go. He’s one of those players who are able to play in every position and in all styles because he can adapt. I think he could be a good defensive midfielder, a position he played some time ago. I believe his formation process has been slow and that benefits him now.
We have a stable relationship. We were roommates when we played for the U-19 team, when we won the U-19 Euro in Switzerland. Back then, I played as a midfielder and he as a rightback. We met during the qualifying phase, we liked each other and we asked to room together during the tournament. Back then he was already a joker, always laughing and in a good mood. He was the youngest one on the team but you could already see his potential. A little while after this tournament, he was promoted to the U-21 team. It all happened quickly, and it wasn’t long before he made the senior national team. It was clear that if all went well, he would go far. These are things that we footballers notice.
In August, a month and a half after the tournament in Switzerland, I got into a car accident and I spent a long time in the intensive care unit. When I was moved to a room, my father told me that Sergio had called every day on the phone, that he had wanted to come see me so many times. It was tough for him after spending an entire month with me. I will always be grateful to him. Who would have known that we would end up being teammates on Real Madrid.
Now we also spend a lot of time together, during the training sessions and concentraciones. I blame him for not being able to sleep much, because he, Navas and Arbeloa always end up in my room playing parchís and destroying me. When they get hungry, they order food and they leave all the dirty dishes in my room. And he’s such a pain with the music. He won’t let us take our siestas. First he wakes up Iker, then he goes for Xabi. None of those who are nearby are allowed to sleep.
Our relationship hasn’t been affected in the least by his change of position from fullback to centerback. I know perfectly well that it’s an issue for the coaches and these are circumstances that happen in life.
The last important anecdote that we had was in the Eurocopa, when he was going to take the penalty shot. He was the only one who revealed how he was going to take it. What could I tell him? Ask him if he was sure? To think it over? I told him to do what he wanted but of course I was scared shitless. I told another teammate and he was shocked into silence. I thought that he must have been joking around, but later on I realized that he was serious. At least everything turned out well! He deserved it after that penalty against Bayern Munich.
Our relationship has always been a bit odd because I’m a few months older than Sergio and I also debuted ahead of him with the first team, but I consider him my other older brother. We got along from the first time we met. Our families also got along well and that helps because you end up spending more time together. When he was promoted to the first team, Sergio was already a leader, much like he is now with Madrid and with the national team. It’s something that’s part of his character, and not a matter of age. He has helped me a lot when I most needed it and he’s always been there for me and next to me, watching over me.
I remember the time we spent together on the U-21 team. Puerta was also there. We were always joking around. For us, it was an adventure to go out of Sevilla and go play together on the national team. Now, when we’re with the national team, we’re always together, either in his room or mine. We play parchís a lot against Arbeloa and Albiol. We stir up trouble because if we see that we’re going to lose, we cheat to win.
When we play together on the field, we understand each other just by looking at each other. He knows when to pass to me. I preferred for him to play as a fullback because he helped me a lot on the wing. In addition, if I received a hard tackle, he’s always nearby to defend me, but it’s true that I knew from some time ago that he would end up as a centerback because of his extraordinary physique and because in this position, he can develop all of his technical virtues.
Everyone says that he’s my protector and that doesn’t bother me. He has always been a good friend who has always been there for me and given me advice whenever I had doubts. He gives me confidence and tranquility. We like to play jokes on our teammates. I go first and I do something to them, and when they’re about to lay into me, Sergio appears and saves me. We always do something like this to Cesc.
The first time Sergio ever kicked me in the Liga and the first ever kick he gave was on the day of his debut. I was playing for Deportivo and we were playing at the Riazor. I saw that he was just a kid, with his long hair. He was playing the rightback position, which meant he was guarding me. During that first tackle, he came at me strongly from behind and connected with my ankle. I didn’t say anything, but I stared at him as if defying him and telling him to take it easy.
Two minutes later, I received another pass and once again he tackled me in the same way. I thought that he was pushing things to the limit, but I didn’t say anything. A short time later, I was substituted. After the game ended, he came up to me and asked me for my shirt, much to my surprise. I stared at him and told him, “you got me good.” And he answered, “it’s because it was my first game and I had to take advantage of the opportunity.”
A couple of years later, I was playing for the senior national team and he was on the U-21 team. The teams were traveling together and we saw each other on the plane. Since I speak a lot with [José Antonio] Reyes and Sergio was with him, we began talking, just a little. Luis then promoted him to the senior team. During his second game, in Belgrade, he came up to me on the bus and said, “I have to ask a favor of you.” I said, “tell me.” He said, “I’m turning 19 and you wear the “19” shirt, can we exchange numbers?” I responded, “no, no, I won’t give it to you.” And he said, “okay, okay, it’s alright.” Sergio turned around and went up the aisle. I had tried to joke around with him and he had believed me. I called him back and told him yes. How could I not exchange numbers with him!
From that time on, we’ve gotten along well. Later, in a game against Lithuania in Valencia, the two of us were on the bench and Luis sent me to warm up. As I prepared to go onto the field, I told him that I was going to score and dedicate the goal to him. I scored and I was going to run to the bench, but my teammates mobbed me to hug me and I didn’t get there, but I pointed at him and he at me.
Back then, Sergio didn’t say much, he was quite shy. Whenever the míster gave us free time after a game, he always wanted to go with us, but I told him it would be better if he didn’t go out, since he had just arrived and there would be time to go out in the future. He took it well and he stayed.
With time, I also got to know his brother René, who is the same age as me. We got along very well, we began hanging out and going out together. When I played against Sergio again, his tackles weren’t as rough as on the first day.
Stay tuned for Luis Aragonés, Fernando Hierro, Pepe Reina and Andrés Iniesta!