Sergio Ramos during a UEFA Nations League match in 2020. AFP
The returning hero

The returning hero

Ramos could have seen out his autumn years in the Saudi sun but he's returning to Sevilla and has told them he will play for whatever they can afford

Friday, 8 September 2023, 13:55

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Whoever would have envisaged that Sergio Ramos would be the returning hero in a footballing fairytale?

This is the man who has the most demonic reputation in the world of football, backed by disappearing from matches in a red mist on 28 occasions. If he plays for your team, you love him; if he’s in opposition, he’s the man to loath.

He was given a particularly tough time whenever he faced his boyhood club, Sevilla, and he played up to the baying mob whenever he returned to the Estadio Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán. He got under their skin with one red card, 15 yellows and seven goals in his 33 games against them. He was never forgiven for leaving the club at the age of 18 and this manifested in a decade-and-a-half of heated clashes. How he played up to it!!

All was clearly forgiven as 23,000 fans turned up to welcome him home last week in the most unexpected of transfers. Ramos could have taken a platinum handshake to see out his autumn years in the Saudi sun; he could have basked in the Messi-like adulation by heading to the MLS; or he could have swelled his pension fund by around €11 million by accepting a deal in Turkey.

It’s heartrending to see him turn down the riches to complete the circle of footballing life at the institution where it all began. To add to the narrative, he’s told them he’ll play for whatever they can afford.

Ramos is bucking the trend of footballers who have more money in the bank than they could ever account for. He returns to the club who signed him at the age of seven and sold him as a teenager to Real Madrid. To add to the romance, he’ll play alongside his former youth team pal Jesús Navas who also returned to the club to finish a distinguished career.

Sevilla were very keen to accentuate the fact that both are academy product which helps with the pool of players when it comes to naming the Champions League squad. We normally think of teenagers making up the numbers, not 37-year-old World Cup winners.

Ramos has a point to prove and Sevilla need his inspiration. Many feel that he’s past his peak but he’s quick to point out that he played more games for PSG last season than any outfield player and the French giants wanted him to re-sign.

Sevilla need leadership and inspiration: they’re rock bottom of La Liga and have lost their opening three games. The squad is going to be stretched as they compete in the Champions League. There are shades of last season when they lived the European dream in midweek to escape the nightmare of fighting relegation in La Liga at the weekends.

Life won’t be dull with Ramos around. Part of his thinking is getting back to Andalucía where he owns a stud farm and most of his family resides. It’s reported that he’s signed a “pay-as-you-play” deal and you know that he’ll want to play every game possible and to prove that the horse breeder is still a thoroughbred.

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