After 16 years, Sergio Ramos leaves Real Madrid

MPHO RANTAO

AFTER 16 years and 22 trophies at the Santiago Bernabeu has come to an end for the legendary Sergio Ramos. 

Real Madrid confirmed that the world champion defender would no longer be wearing the white and blue jersey. The move is a result of continuous broken down contract negotiations between Ramos and Real Madrid. 

Madrid had only been able to offer Ramos a one-year extension with a 10% reduction on his salary after the defender had reportedly been seeking a two-year extension. His exit officially makes him available as a free agent.  

His exit also comes after the right back spent the majority of the 2020/2021 La Liga season plagued with recurring injuries that hampered the back line of the team. 

Ramos joined Los Blancos from Sevilla in 2006, as right back, in a transfer move that would solidify him as one of the greatest defenders football has seen in recent years. 

At the Santiago Bernabeu, Ramos went on to record 671 appearances and 101 goals for the club. He also made a tally of 129 goals for the club and his country, the sixth-most all-time among defenders. 

One of his most famous and important goals is the 93rd-minute equaliser scored at the 2014 Champions League Final, which helped Real Madrid secure their record 10th Uefa Champions League trophy over Atletico Madrid – which the team and its fan base call La Décima. 

As a Real Madrid player, Ramos made history when named in the FIFPro World11 eleven times; a record for a defender, and the third-most all-time. 

He also holds the record as a defender and third-most of any footballer to be elected to the UEFA Team of the Year nine times.

In his farewell press conference in Madrid, Ramos gave an emotional, heartfelt speech on his time at the Bernabeu, saying that his exit is not a goodbye, and that he would make his return to the Los Blancos side in the future. 

Sergio Ramos speaking at his farewell. Picture: Youtube/RealMadrid

“The moment has come, one of the most difficult in my life. You are never prepared to say goodbye to Real Madrid,” Ramos said. 

“After winning 22 titles with a lot of effort, sacrifice and dedication, a great stage is coming to an end. This is the hardest moment of my life.”

“I’ll come back here one day, I’m sure. I want to say a huge thanks to Real Madrid, I will always carry you in my heart.”

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez made his own passionate account of Ramos’ time in Madrid, playing a vital role in one of the team’s most successful periods in its history, bringing 22 trophies to the club. 

“It is an act full of feelings for all Madridistas, including me. Today is not an easy day. It is all affection and affection. I will not forget September 8 when he arrived here 16 years ago,” Perez said in the livestream. 

“Sergio, I am very proud of what you have achieved, you are a great Real Madrid legend.”

Perez spoke after an emotional tribute was shown to the audience present and to the livestream, stating that Ramos became one of the icons of Real Madrid, as well as a teacher to all upcoming defenders. 

“Dear Sergio, 16 years have passed and you have traced a spectacular career. I am enormously proud, you are a reference and one of the great legends of Real Madrid. You have been an emblematic captain,” Perez said. 

“The Madridistas will always carry you in their hearts, a player who never gives up. Thank you for defending our shirt fighting until the end.”

Ramos with his family and president Florentino Perez. Picture: Youtube/Real Madrid

Current and former teammates of the right back sent their tributes to social media while away on international duties, sharing their love and admiration for someone who they regarded as a teammate, player, captain and legend of the team.

Marcelo Viera uploaded a passionate message for his co-captain, expressing gratitude for the lessons imparted by the defender. 

“Oh captain, my captain! My brother! Thank you for everything we’ve shared, for everything you’ve taught me and what we’ve achieved together these years”, he wrote. “Brother…I wish you always the best, you deserve it!!! LEGEND 4. ” 

Fellow vice-Captain Karim Benzema sent his well wishes in an Instagram post, sending it from the France national camp. 

“More than a Capitán, my friend, my brother thanks for all the moments we spent together on the road of success for the @realmadrid. Wish you all the best legend @SergioRamos,” he wrote. 

Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois said, “Gracias @sergioramos por todo el tiempo que hemos compartido, por tu ejemplo y compromiso. 

“Eres una leyenda del @realmadrid y del fútbol. Te deseo lo mejor, capitán!“

Midflieder Toni Kroos summed up his tribute with three words in a tweet: “Best. Defender. Ever.”

Fellow Spanish footballer Isco Alcaron wrote: “Thank you for guiding this generation and this team to victory, thank you for the 93th minute [goal] that changed everything,

“Thank you for being a good companion and good captain! I wish you the best in the new phase and the rest of your life @sergioramos.”

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