Sergio Ramos’ statistical profile reads like a striker’s tally sheet.
Since April 26, he has scored six goals—five of them coming in a four-game stretch and two of which put Bayern Munich to the sword in a 20-minute spell during Real Madrid’s 4-0 Champions League victory in the Bavarian capital.
It was a win that put Los Blancos into the final of the European Cup for the first time since 2002, and you just knew that if the nine-time winners were to secure a 10th continental title—La Decima—it would be thanks, at least in part, to the heroics of the 28-year-old defender.
After all, Ramos seemed on a mission all season long, and that he hit peak form late in the spring—and late in second-half stoppage time of Saturday’s Champions League final—only spoke to a sense for the dramatic that had long been associated with the Spain international.
This is a player, don’t forget, who first became associated with Real Madrid when he scored against them in a thrilling 2-2 draw while with Sevilla in 2005. (The match also included three red cards, 10 additional bookings and an own goal.)
Then, after completing a €27 million move to the capital during Florentino Perez’s first stint as club president, he set up Gonzalo Higuain for a last-minute winner away to Osasuna that clinched the Primera Division title.
Over the course of an 11-year career, Ramos has scored in Spanish Super Cups, in Copa del Rey competitions, against high-profile opponents, such as Barcelona, and in World Cup qualifiers.
In January 2009, he even struck a spectacular, volleyed goal that helped Madrid to a 3-0 win over Mallorca.
A player who has always sought to be at the centre of everything, he is also his club’s record holder for red cards (19) and had his name written into the book on 16 occasions this term.
But on Saturday, when his club needed him desperately, he both remained on the pitch and delivered the blow that sent a feisty Atletico Madrid side wobbling.
With only a minute remaining on the referee’s watch and with Atletico about to celebrate a first-ever Champions League triumph, Ramos popped up to head a Luka Modric delivery past goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois for the equaliser.
Madrid never looked back, and at the final whistle, their 4-1 victory almost looked comfortable—the subsequent goals coming from Gareth Bale, Marcelo and Cristiano Ronaldo.
“What was most important was to get the equaliser,” Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti told reporters following the match. “We didn’t have any space—Atletico defended very well—but we tried every way possible, right to the end. We managed to [equalise] and then the game changed completely.”
It was Ramos, however, who sparked the comeback. It was he who touched the ball an eye-popping 136 times—more than anyone else on the pitch—and completed 85 per cent of his passes, per Squawka. It was he who made six interceptions and 13 clearances during extended spells of Atletico pressure, especially in the first half.
And it was he, more than anyone else, who rose to the occasion with the European Cup—with La Decima—beckoning for Real Madrid.
Sami Khedira: "It's the biggest thing which we could have done - winning this trophy. Sergio Ramos saved us again." #HalaMadrid— #APorLaDecima (@WeAreMadrid10) May 24, 2014
That’s how legends are made. That’s why Sergio Ramos is a favourite of the Madridistas. That’s why he’s a European Championship, World Cup and now Champions League winner.