The ending of a major competition in country football usually sees many professional players retire internationally, and the aftermath of the 2022 FIFA World Cup also witnessed similar exits from players who shone at this level. The quadrennial tournament ended December last year, prompting many notable players to close their curtains for international football, including Eden Hazard (Belgium), Hugo Lloris, Karim Benzema, Raphaël Varane (All from France), etc. These stars are now joined by another football sensation, Spain’s all-time most-capped footballer Sergio Ramos, who announced his international retirement last week.
180 Caps for La Roja
The 36-year-old centre-back, who is playing for French Ligue 1 league leader Paris Saint-Germain, made this decision after he was told by Luis de la Fuente, the new manager of the Spain national team, that he will not be in his plan of reviving Spain international football. Nevertheless, many have been expecting this to come, since Ramos had missed the 2020 UEFA European Championship and the 2022 FIFA World Cup, in which La Roja lost in the Semifinal and Round of 16 respectively.
The former Sevilla player and Real Madrid captain made his international debut back in 2005 and accumulated a total of 180 caps in the span of 17 years, making him the most-capped player in the country. During his time with Spain, Ramos was influential in the country’s triumphant moments in two UEFA European Championships (2008 in Austria and Switzerland and 2012 in Poland and Ukraine) as well as the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.
Besides, the Camas-born defender had 23 goals for the Spain national team, before missing in action since 2021. His goal-scoring record remains the ninth joint-best for La Roja, ranking him with Spanish greats such as David Villa, Raúl, Fernando Torres, etc. Positioned as one of the deadliest set-piece takers in the world, Ramos had scored four of those 23 tallies in a major competition, in which all of them came in the UEFA Nations League.
Ramos: “My International Career Deserved a Better Ending Than This.”
Ramos, who turns 37 later this month, could not hide his sentiments in his retirement statement, mentioning that “The time has come, the time to say goodbye to the National Team, our dear and exciting Red Shirt (Spain’s colors). This morning I received a call from the current coach (de la Fuente) who told me that he won’t be counting on me, regardless of the level I can show or how I continue my sports career”.
Nevertheless, the defender also complained that his international career should have ended on his own terms, or at least due to his decline in fitness or ability. He added, “It is the end of a journey that I hoped it would be longer and that it would end with a better taste in the mouth. I humbly believe that this career deserved to end due to a personal decision or because my performance was not up to what our National Team deserves, but not for a matter of age or other reasons.”
Stars, Present and Current Teammates Hailed Ramos “The Best”
Following his official exit from international football, players took to the internet to celebrate the illustrious international career the centre-back had, with France’s 2022 FIFA World Cup Golden Boot winner Kylian Mbappé and Real Madrid’s Toni Kroos calling him the best. Another Frenchman Raphaël Varane, who played alongside Ramos during their Real Madrid days, went on to say that his former teammate is a legend in his own rights.
Full Focus on Club Football Next
Sergio Ramos won the 2021/2022 Ligue 1 and 2022 Trophée des Champion with Paris Saint-Germain, since sealing a move from his long-time club Los Blancos to France back in 2021. The player, who scored 110 goals in 793 appearances for all of his clubs, now looks forward to pledging his focus and time to his club duties, with hopes of winning more trophies in his twilight years in professional football.