Sergio Ramos is Real Madrid’s greatest leader since Raul as he leads their title


There is an unwritten rule at Real Madrid that players over the age of 30 only get their contracts renewed one year at a time. 

If Sergio Ramos delivers this year’s league title as seems likely, then rules might have to be bent for the Real Madrid captain.

At 34, Ramos is showing no signs of slowing down. Few players look to have come back from three months without squad training in such good condition. Suspension will rule him out of the team’s next match on Friday, if not that, he would have started every game between now and the end of the season.

Sergio Ramos scored his fifth goal in seven games with his penalty against Athletic Bilbao

Sergio Ramos scored his fifth goal in seven games with his penalty against Athletic Bilbao

Ramos is helping to inspire Real Madrid as they push for their first league title since 2016-17

Ramos is helping to inspire Real Madrid as they push for their first league title since 2016-17

Ramos has come a long way since his penalty miss in the 2012 Champions League semi-finals

Ramos has come a long way since his penalty miss in the 2012 Champions League semi-finals

His spot-kick against Bayern Munich was one of the biggest penalties in his career back in 2012

His spot-kick against Bayern Munich was one of the biggest penalties in his career back in 2012

He is the club’s top scorer since football restarted, with five goals across the seven straight wins. Three of those goals have been from the penalty spot where his style of waiting for the keeper to move is at the moment proving unstoppable.

If they dive he floats it over them, if they don’t he sticks it in the corner and they move too late to get it. It’s a win-win if you can hit the ball hard enough despite having used the run-up not to build momentum but to try to read the keeper.

Ramos has now scored 22 straight penalties, including shoot-outs. And all that from someone who missed one of the biggest penalties in his career back in 2012.

Real Madrid had won the league that season and, coached by Jose Mourinho, they believed they were on course to win the Champions League too. But in the semi-final shoot-out with Bayern Munich, as then Madrid coach Jose Mourinho recalls it: ‘Three monsters of football, Ramos, Kaka and Cristiano Ronaldo’, all missed from the spot.

Ramos was the butt of most of the jokes because his kick sailed high over the bar.

How did he respond to the failure and the subsequent fun-poking at his expense? He scored his next big tournament spot-kick with a Panenka-style chip of course.

He says after the Champions League failure he went home and told his dad and brother that his next penalty would be a ‘Panenka’.

The Euros were looming so he might have known it would be another big one. He practised pre-tournament although Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque told him he wouldn’t have the nerve to do it. 

Ramos has become the club's biggest leader and scored 22 times in succession from the spot

Ramos has become the club’s biggest leader and scored 22 times in succession from the spot

And then against Portugal in the semi-final he floated the ball over the dive of Rui Patricio to help send Spain into the final.

Buried deep in the tapestry of tattoos that cover Ramos’ body he has the Nelson Mandela phrase: ‘unconquerable soul, master of my own destiny’. 

It’s all part of the larger-than-life persona. His rebirth from penalty-flop to spot-kick king is part of that.

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