On Monday Real Madrid‘s pre-season for the 2017/18 campaign begins, and perhaps that’s why Sergio Ramos, in captain mode, has already begun to park the euphoria of the twelfth Champions League win and is ready to set new goals.
Los Blancos will never get tired of winning, nor the Sevillian, who has endless ambition and even dreams of winning a Ballon d’Or.
What does it feel like to raise a cup with so many people behind you who have worked to get it? Not just players, but millions of people.
“Obviously it is a very gratifying prize for all the effort and sacrifice it involves on a personal and collective level. But when I raise it, I remember all the work done and the supporters around the world who shower us with affection. For me it is a privilege to be the captain.”
I prefer the Sergio Ramos of the final rather than the ‘last-minute Ramos.’ What I mean is, the defender, a boss at the back who encourages his teammates when there are bad times in a game. Which one do you prefer?
“Goals are gratifying, and perhaps spectacular for the public, but as a defender, my main function is to convey tranquility and security in defending and I prefer that. If later I can contribute with important goals in finals and others, that’s fine. People think I’m going to score headed goals in finals in the last minute and that has happened, but it does not mean that it will happen all the time.”
If I said you could win a Ballon d’Or, would you tell me I’m crazy?
“It depends. I’d have to know what they value to award that prize. These last years have been all about both Leo and Cristiano, but, for example, Cannavaro, who was my partner, also won. You never see it as crazy. I have achieved lots of things throughout my career that are very very good but if they rewarded me with a Ballon d’Or, that would be historical.”
You talk about peers. You will now have new people around you in defence. Vallejo, Theo … For them, just playing, training and learning at your side is a good reason to be at Real Madrid. Do you like that part of your role as captain?
“When I arrived at Real Madrid I had to learn from veterans, like Raul and Iker (who, despite their youth, were already veterans). Cannavaro…another who I learned from every day. I will try to make the adaptation as good as possible. Vallejo already knows the club, Theo maybe less, but we will try to adapt and get to the best level from the first moment.”
You have quoted Cannavaro twice already. Was he the reference player for you, in the same way that you are for Vallejo or Theo?
“In my time maybe Ronaldo Nazario, Raul and Iker were the ones that I looked up to most in the dressing room. And Roberto Carlos also, along with Michel Salgado.”
What is the purpose of this season?
“To continue making history. Therefore we must forget a little of what has been achieved, which for me is the key to success: resetting and returning with the same ambition. I have been here for many years but I have more enthusiasm than the first day to play, to win, to wear the shirt of the best club in the world. Every year you have to start from scratch, turn the page and start with new motivation. This year we started with the mentality of winning titles immediately. The challenge is always to overcome what was done the previous season. We have made history, but our intention and goal is to make the history of this club bigger.”
Cristiano Ronaldo? Morata? What do you think of their situations?
“These are personal situations and logically I can’t add much more. The only thing I can say is that I like being with the best and they are great players. Hopefully they are with us for many years but maybe they’re looking for an exit option so we’ll see.”
Zidane and Florentino, how do you see them?
“They are two very key pieces in the project. When things are done well, not only at the level of the players, but also the coach and from above, it is wonderful.”
Did you expect to be in one of the best moments of your career at age 31?
“You never know. It is true that I have just lived though one of the best years of my career but I really want to continue to perform at a good level. The experience gives you things that you do not get as a youth, although the ambition I am keeping intact. The important thing is not to set a goal but to be clear that everything is possible and you can get it.”
Where does that strong personality, that character of Sergio Ramos come from?
“I would say that in the end it comes from the way you were raised. My father since childhood has always emphasised how he educated me and that’s why I am what I am. Being a little boy, if the coach told me something and I got angry, my father told me to go talk to him and tell him what I think.”
Returning to your childhood, you have said that what you liked was to score goals. Do you think any of that has influenced your special relationship with the goal?
“Yes. I always played as a striker and one always imitated the celebrations of players like Ronaldo. It might make me more comfortable in offensive situations and it may also make me act differently than other defenders who have not played this way as a youngster.”
Where would you say that makes the difference in headers? Intuition? Physical power? The jump?
“I think you have defined it quite well. It is a cluster. In addition to training, you have to have a good connection with the crosser, whether Toni Kroos, Luka Modric or James. That coordination of gestures makes everything, mixed with physical power and training, come out well. Not all finish with the same efficiency but that is also a sign that continued work is necessary.”
Have you noticed a change of attitude in the rivals that defend you at corners?
“For these last years yes, it’s true that maybe the goals get me special attention, but it’s not normal for two and up to three players to mark me. That benefits the team because I drag rivals away, meaning it’s easier for other teammates like Casemiro, who scored against Barcelona, or Pepe who did it in the derby. We all benefit.”