NAIROBI, Kenya, The Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos will become just the 10th player to reach the landmark in Spain’s top division if he features against Huesca this weekend.
Andoni Zubizarreta, Joaquín, Raúl, Eusebio, Paco Buyo, Manolo Sanchís, Iker Casillas, Xavi Hernández and Miquel Soler. An illustrious group of legends and the only nine players in history to have played 500 games or more in the top-flight of Spanish football.
Now, Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos, who has made 460 LaLiga Santander matches with Los Blancos and a further 39 with hometown club Sevilla FC, could join the elite group this Saturday if he plays a part in Real Madrid’s home match with SD Huesca (2pm CET). He may be one of the most talked-about players in world football, but what has been his path to reach the verge of this historic landmark?
Coming through the ranks at Sevilla
Though now synonymous with Real Madrid, Ramos’ career started at his boyhood club Sevilla. After launching his footballing journey by playing as a striker on the patch of grass outside his apartment block in the town of Camas on the outskirts of the city, Ramos was picked up by the Andalusian club and rose through its illustrious youth academy, impressing to the point where he was handed his debut as a 17-year-old.
Coach Joaquín Caparrós had been so impressed by the youngster that he put him on in the 64th minute of a match away at RC Deportivo in February 2004. At that moment, as Ramos sprinted on to the pitch wearing a baggy No.35 shirt, history was made. It was Ramos’ introduction to LaLiga and LaLiga’s introduction to Ramos. Though Sevilla lost 1-0 that day, Ramos made a big impression and showed zero fear as he won the ball off Spain international Albert Luque with a crunching slide tackle just minutes after coming on.
In the 2004/05 campaign, Ramos made 32 league appearances for the club and really proved himself as a top talent, playing mostly at right-back at that early stage of his career. A blockbuster transfer to Real Madrid followed in the summer of 2005, joining Los Blancos for €27m, a record fee for a defender at the time.
From rising star to legend at the Bernabeu
Ramos did not shy away from inheriting Fernando Hierro’s legendary No.4 shirt, but he was yet to play much at centre-back at this stage. He made significant contributions in defence and attack, though, as Real Madrid won the 2006/07 and 2007/08 LaLiga Santander titles. It wasn’t actually until the 2011/12 season, under Jose Mourinho, that Ramos made a more permanent switch from right-back to centre-back for Real Madrid. He’s never looked back.
Since then, Ramos has established himself as one of the greatest centre-backs the game has ever seen while, at the same time, making his presence felt at the other end of the pitch by scoring a total of 74 LaLiga Santander goals, an all-time record for a defender. The most recent of these was a penalty in Real Madrid’s 3-1 ElClasico victory over Barcelona at the Camp Nou last weekend.
That ElClasico strike was also his 99th goal for Real Madrid across all competitions. Saturday could be an extra special day, then, if he scores against Huesca to reach a centenary of goals for the club. Really, it’s a matter of ‘when’ and not ‘if’ and Ramos will become only the 22nd player to score 100 times for Real Madrid, one that he accelerated towards last season by bagging a career-high 11 league goals.
Despite everything that Ramos has already achieved, there are still further chapters to be written. As captain of his club, he lifted the LaLiga Santander title in 2019/20 and would love to make it back-to-back titles in 2020/21, something Real Madrid haven’t achieved since the consecutive triumphs in 2007 and 2008. If Ramos does win another LaLiga title it would be his sixth, further cementing his LaLiga legacy.
After hitting 500 appearances, he can keep climbing up the rankings of the Spanish top flight’s all-time appearance makers. The man from Camas is inside the top 10, but could overtake Miquel Soler’s 504, Xavi Hernández’s 505, Iker Casillas’ 510 and even Manolo Sanchís’ 523 before the end of the season. To reach Andoni Zubizarreta’s record of 622 matches would still be quite an ask, but one thing everyone in Spanish football has learned since Ramos made his LaLiga Santander debut on that February night back in 2004 is to never rule this player out of anything.