Paul Clement, Carlo Ancelotti’s right-hand man at Real Madrid, gushed with enthusiasm after Sergio Ramos’ stoppage-time header started the comeback which led to La Decima.
“Sergio is the number one for Real,” the Englishman told Spanish publication Marca.
“He’s an amazing player,” Clement continued. “He's an example on and off the field and it's a privilege for all of us to be able to work with him"
It was hardly a surprise that it was Madrid’s central defender popping up to score such an important goal either.
As he leapt above all the other players in the box and planted a header beyond the palms of the diving Thibaut Courtois, Ramos extended his scoring run to six goals in his last seven appearances for Los Blancos.
That run included the first two in the 4-0 win against Bayern Munich in the semifinal second leg and even incorporated a free-kick in La Liga against Real Valladolid.
However, focusing on his goal-scoring is perhaps disrespectful to what a fantastic job he does of defending.
Statistics from stats website Squawka reveal that he won a thumping 131/190 headed duels in Spain’s top flight this season, while he also came out successful in 59 of the 104 tackles he attempted in 32 appearances.
That’s not to say he doesn’t make the odd mistake.
An error from Ramos led to one of the Celta Vigo goals in Madrid’s recent defeat in Galicia and he also amassed 11 yellow cards and two red ones in the league this past season—although he has never been sent off for Spain in 115 caps.
Above all though, the former Sevilla player plays with his heart on his sleeve and is the sort of player most fans would love to see on their team.
His trophy cabinet, considering he is still just 28, is bulging too.
The Champions League was the only one missing, but that can now sit proudly alongside three La Liga titles, two Copa del Reys, two Supercopas, two European Championships and a World Cup.
With all that in mind, plus his devastating and decisive role in Madrid’s ending to the season, cries are already surfacing for him to succeed Cristiano Ronaldo as the winner of the Ballon d’Or next January.
Talking to Marca, former Madrid captain Manolo Sanchis talked up Ramos’ chances of winning the coveted prize:
I've been saying he's the best centre back in the world for a long time, even when there are some really great centre backs. With the progress he has made, he's put himself up there as a candidate for the Ballon d'Or. For me, the fact that he's a defender makes him more worthy of it.
Juan Martinez "Pirri" also suggested Ramos was a candidate on Radio Marca, although he suggested that the fact he is a defender could count against him.
Defenders have, albeit sparsely, won the award before though.
After Italy’s triumph at the 2006 World Cup in Germany, centre-back Fabio Cannavaro received the prestigious award, and Spain would possibly have to win this summer’s World Cup in Brazil if Ramos is to strengthen his campaign.
La Roja’s defence is often underrated though, they concede very few goals, and it is feasible that Ramos will play an integral part in their defence of the trophy.
He may even chip in with a goal along the way given his recent form.
Success for Spain should create a domino effect which leads to success for Ramos individually, and it could be his tears, not Ronaldo’s, which adorn the front pages of Madrid’s press after the Ballon d’Or ceremony in Switzerland next January.
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