Sergio Ramos Says Elbow Incident vs. Plzen in Champions League Was an Accident

Gianni Verschueren@ReverschPassFeatured ColumnistNovember 8, 2018

Real Madrid's Sergio Ramos celebrates after scoring his side's 2nd goal from the penalty spot during a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Real Madrid and Valladolid at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Spain, Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018. (AP Photo/Paul White)
Paul White/Associated Press

Real Madrid star Sergio Ramos has said his latest controversial incident, an elbow to the nose of Viktoria Plzen's Milan Havel in Wednesday's 5-0 UEFA Champions League win, was an accident. 

The Plzen man was substituted before the half-time whistle bleeding heavily, and replays showed he suffered the injury when Ramos flew past him, catching him with his elbow. After the match he explained what happened, per Sport:

"I wasn't expected to come out and talk, but I went to find Milan in the changing room, and he wasn't there because he's already gone to undergo tests. It was an action which happened so quickly. There's contact, but there wasn't any intention to hurt a fellow footballer.

"The nose is very delicate, I've suffered from it myself, and any hit can cause a lot of bleeding. I hope that he recovers as soon as possible."

He also took to Twitter:

Sergio Ramos @SergioRamos

A victory to build on and also to learn from. Football always teaches you things and tonight I shouldn't have gone into the challenge like that. Milan, it wasn't my intention to injure you. Get well soon 💪🏼 #HalaMadrid https://t.co/NZcWRAwI0x

The incident was somewhat overlooked due to Real's easy 5-0 win, their third straight across all competitions. But there were still calls to punish him after the match, including from Chris Sutton:

Football on BT Sport @btsportfootball

"He has to be banned, and banned for a long time." "That is a disgusting challenge." @chris_sutton73 was not happy with what he saw from Sergio Ramos last night. The Real Madrid defender has since issued an apology. https://t.co/IR51QXprWC

Ramos has earned himself a reputation for violent play and "dirty" tactics over the years and stole the headlines for all the wrong reasons in back-to-back UEFA Champions League finals. Two years ago he got Juventus' Juan Cuadrado's sent off with a dive, and last season he tangled with Liverpool's Mohamed Salah, injuring his shoulder.

The 32-year-old holds multiple disciplinary records, including the most bookings in La Liga, the Champions League and the Spanish national team, per Mister Chip (for AS). According to the report he's been booked 274 times during his career.

Despite the frequent criticism, he told reporters he won't change the way he plays after Wednesday's win:

"When you've been playing at a top level for such a long time, being the captain of your country and Real Madrid, you're always in the spotlight. Throughout my career I've dealt with criticism well and I'm not going to change. We all make mistakes and learn from them but I am what I am and that's what has helped me achieve what I have.

"What happened with Salah stays with me, knowing the repercussions it could have, and now I think about things 30 times over. But I'm not going to change the way I play because it's been key to my success. I've never gone out with the intention to hurt a fellow professional and I've had my nose broken three times."

Ramos' playing style often pays dividends as it takes some of the unwanted attention away from his team-mates. As the villain, he can get into opponents' heads, and the mental warfare often makes up for the routine bans as a result of the bookings.

He has won four La Liga titles and four Champions League with Los Blancos, as well as a World Cup and two European Championships with Spain. He's also been named to FIFA's Team of the Year nine times.