It's official! Sergio Ramos will leave his beloved Real Madrid, the club he's represented since he was a teenager and led to so much glory over the years.
The 35-year-old, who was unable to agree a new contract with the club, will depart after a rare season without delivering at least one trophy for them. In a brief statement published on Wednesday, Los Blancos confirmed the departure of the veteran centre-back. The following day, the club held a special farewell tribute for him, with club president Florentino Perez in attendance.
"The moment has arrived, it's one of the most difficult of my life," Ramos said as he began to address those assembled, before ending his tearful address by saying: "A marvellous stage ends, unique in my life, I'll never experience what I have here, but a new exciting stage begins, with a lot of enthusiasm about showing my best level for a lot of years and let's hope I can add some more trophies. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, and this is a 'see you later,' because sooner or later I'll be back. Thank you."
Ramos signed for Real back in 2005 and has gone on to make over 600 appearances, winning just about all there is to win at club and international level.
To salute those 16 success-filled years here is a collection of 16 facts, stats and nuggets of trivia about the man who leaves the Bernabeu as a bona fide club legend.
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1. Debut defeat
Real Madrid signed Ramos from Sevilla in the summer of 2005 for €27 million, the highest transfer fee a Spanish club had ever paid for a defender at the time. Despite only being 19, Ramos was immediately assigned the legendary Fernando Hierro's old No. 4 shirt. He wore that jersey to make his debut against Celta Vigo -- coming on at half-time in a shock 3-2 league defeat at the Bernabeu.
2. Legendary status assured
In the 16 years that followed, Ramos racked up an amazing 671 appearances for Real Madrid -- an average of 41.9 games per season. He departs as the club's fourth all-time highest appearance maker behind only Raul Gonzalez (741), Iker Casillas (725) and Manolo Sanchis (710).
▫️ 16 years— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) June 16, 2021
▫️ 671 games
▫️ 101 goals
🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 La Liga
🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 Supercopa de España
🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 Champions League
🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 FIFA Club World Cup
🏆 🏆 🏆 UEFA Super Cup
🏆 🏆 Copa del Rey
CERTIFIED. CLUB. LEGEND. 🤍 pic.twitter.com/57J6UUXbhX
3. So. Many. Trophies.
Ramos has won 22 major trophies during his glittering career at the Bernabeu, including 5 La Liga titles, 2 Copa del Reys and 4 Champions Leagues. Only the great Francisco Gento has won more with the club, collecting 23 major honours during the 1950s and 60s. Lionel Messi is the only player in La Liga history to win more games (383) than Ramos, who is tied in second place with former Real teammate Iker Casillas (334).
4. And goals, too
While a defender by trade, Ramos has pitched in with more than his fair share of goals, scoring a total of 101 goals in all competitions. The centre-back is one of only 22 players in Los Blancos' history to reach a century of goals for the club. Ramos has 74 goals in La Liga, making him the second highest-scoring defender in league history behind Hierro (105).
One of Sergio Ramos' greatest moments at @realmadrid 🏆— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) June 16, 2021
Legends are forever.pic.twitter.com/a9CKu1wLEX
5. King of Europe
Ramos has scored in two Champions League finals (2014 and 2016) making him the only defender to do so. He is one of four Real players to register more than one goal in Champions League finals, alongside Cristiano Ronaldo (3), Gareth Bale (3), and Raul (2). In total, he's scored 15 Champions League goals, the joint-ninth highest tally of any Real player ever (level with Ivan Helguera).
6. Here comes the drop
For all the practice he's had lifting trophies over the years, it doesn't mean Ramos hasn't suffered the occasional mishap while celebrating. Who could forget the moment in 2011 he accidentally dropped the Copa del Rey underneath the open-top bus that was parading them through the Spanish capital, putting a significant dent in the silverware.
7. Spain mainstay
Success at club level bred more on the international stage. Since making his senior international debut just five days after his 16th birthday, Ramos has gone on to play 180 times for Spain -- making him the most capped European men's player of all time. Ramos is joint-fourth on the overall list, with the record belonging to Soh Chin Ann of Malaysia for his staggering 224 times for his country between 1969 and 1984.
8. Panenka pro
As well as proving himself a rock at the back, Ramos has scored 23 goals for Spain. He also takes penalties for his country, regularly holding his nerve and dinking home "Panenkas" with impudent ease. Ramos has stepped up to take 12 penalties for La Roja (not including shootouts), missing four --- two of which came in the same Nations League game against Switzerland last year. The Real defender was thwarted by Swiss goalkeeper Jan Sommer twice on the night, thus bringing to an end the former's flawless two-year spot-kick streak.
Sergio Ramos wins it for Spain with a Panenka 🔥— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) March 23, 2019
He has now scored in five consecutive matches for his country and is 12th in Spain's list of all-time leading scorers with 18 goals. pic.twitter.com/2UcXtgBrj3
9. No Euro farewell
Ramos was forced to miss out on selection for Spain's Euro 2020 squad due to persistent muscular and hamstring injuries that has seen him miss the majority of the 2021 calendar. This means that Spain have gone into a major tournament without a single Real Madrid player in their squad for the first time ever.
10. So many red cards
It's well documented that, for all Ramos' positive qualities, his disciplinary record leaves a lot to be desired. He has collected more yellow cards (173) and red cards (20) than any other player in the entire 92-year history of La Liga. In all, he has been sent off 26 times in his career to date, but even that extraordinary haul pales in comparison to the word-record 46 red cards shown to Colombian enforcer Gerard Bedoya between 1995 and 2015.
11. Controversial clash
One of his most infamous incidents came midway through the first half of the 2018 Champions League final, when a flailing tangle with Mohamed Salah led to the pair hitting the floor with Ramos appearing to be holding the Liverpool forward's arm. Salah suffer a dislocated shoulder which forced him off the pitch in floods of tears. Ramos remained unpunished and ultimately captained his side to glory.
12. Menaced by Messi
Ramos also levelled Messi as a particularly memorable instalment of El Clasico between Real and Barcelona in 2010 ticked over into injury time. Trailing 5-0 at the Camp Nou and having been run ragged by Messi all night, Ramos decided to stop his opponent in his tracks by violently booting the Barca star's legs from beneath him. Ramos had already been booked earlier in the match, but the 92nd-minute outburst was still deemed serious enough to earn him a straight red card.
13. Wedding of the Year
Ramos cuts a much more placid figure away from the pitch, devoting most of his non-footballing life to home life with his partner and their children. The defender married Pilar Rubio in the summer of 2019 at a wedding that boasted a guest list of truly epic proportions. Among the guests was an entire constellation of footballing star power, including David Beckham, Roberto Carlos, Luka Modric, and even a few Barca players such as Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba. As if that wasn't enough to seal legendary status, the bride and groom even rode into the room inside an enormous dragon as "The Final Countdown" played. Why, you ask? Because they could.
14. Horse play
Ramos is well known for his passionate love of horses and even owns a 44-hectare stud farm named after himself, SR4, in his native region of Andalusia. The project was recognised in 2018 when when his prize horse, Yucatan de Ramos, took the top honours at the SICAB (Salon Internacional del Caballo) world fair in the player's hometown of Seville.
15. Fitness guru
One glance at Ramos' Instagram output reveals his serious commitment to physical conditioning, with the veteran defender regularly sharing videos of his intense workout routines. Now, of course, they serve to advertise his fitness levels to prospective new employers.
16. Living canvas
Anybody who has witnessed Ramos' sweaty, shirtless workout videos will know that he also has a huge passion for body art. Indeed, a high proportion of the 35-year-old's torso is covered in tattoos; a diverse collection of imagery that ranges from roaring lions, to the trophies he's won, to tributes to artists Banksy and Salvador Dali.