Stainless Sergio Ramos: if he honors his 177th appearance with Spain, the captain of La Roja will set a new international selection record for a European player on Saturday in Switzerland (20:45 / 19:45 GMT) in the League of Nations, before aiming for the Egyptian Ahmed Hassan's world record.
At 34, the central defender of Real Madrid is heading for a new high point in his career, after having equaled Wednesday, in a friendly match against the Netherlands (1-1), the European record of 176 caps, until then held by the legendary Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon.
The Spanish captain came into play in the 86th minute in place of Iñigo Martinez, playing an additional international meeting, before tackling two crucial matches in the League of Nations against Switzerland and Germany.
"It was a form of recognition ... And also a way of taking care of the player who has been international the most times with Spain, and who continues to accumulate caps," said Spain coach Luis Enrique, to justify the few minutes granted to its captain.
In pursuit of Ahmed Hassan
Everything indicates that Sergio Ramos will have more playing time against Switzerland on Saturday, while a victory over Nati would bring La Roja closer to the final phase of the League of Nations, which they could not reach last year.
Two meetings, and therefore two opportunities for Ramos to get a little closer to the absolute record of selections held by the former Egyptian attacking midfielder Ahmed Hassan, which peaks at 184.
Before the milestone on Wednesday, he had already become the Spanish player who played the most matches in the selection last year, in a match counting for the qualifiers for Euro 2020 against Norway (1-1).
The Sevilla-trained defender then played his 168th game with La Roja, surpassing the 167 caps of his former Real Madrid teammate goalkeeper Iker Casillas.
Ramos is also the central defender having scored the most goals in the national team with 23 goals, one more the Argentine defender Daniel Passarella.
"His statistics are only within the reach of gifted," said Wednesday Luis Enrique, fifteen years after the debut of the Andalusian in the selection.
It all started on March 26, 2005, in a friendly against China, when Luis Aragones gave a young defender with long hair a chance.
Since then, the beard has grown and the hair is collected in a bun.
But Ramos remains unwavering regardless of the coach, from Vicente Del Bosque to Luis Enrique, via Julen Lopetegui and Robert Moreno.
During his adventure in red, he was twice European champion in 2008 and 2012, and lifted the World Cup in 2010 in South Africa, among the best Roja in decades, alongside legends like Xavi, Andrés Iniesta or Casillas, who gave him the captain's armband of Spain in 2016.
The Olympic dream
"He's an extraordinary player with an impressive ability to train others," Spain striker Pablo Sarabia recently told AFP.
Since then, the captain continues with all his might and without the slightest desire to stop, become one of the essential pillars of the selection, but also of Real Madrid where he piles up trophies and records.
Winner of 22 titles with the Merengues, including four Champions League titles, Sergio Ramos recently scored his 100th goal with the white tunic, making him the most prolific defender in the history of the Spanish league.
“Statistics are meant to be exceeded.
If I thought that I had realized all my dreams, I would have retired, ”said the native of Camas, in the suburbs of Seville, who shows no intention of stopping.
Among his dreams is the ambition to go with Spain to the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2021: “It's a very nice idea.
An event to which we cannot say no, ”he assured.
With the 2022 World Cup in Qatar in the sights, Ramos will continue to advance on a path paved with records on Saturday against Switzerland.
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