After swapping Sevilla for Real Madrid in 2005, Sergio Ramos has never looked back. At the time, Los Blancos paid £23 million for the six-foot defender, and few can argue that that hasn’t proved to be a bargain. To date, the Camas-born defender has played 507 games in La Liga for both Madrid and Sevilla combined. But where does Ramos rank among the all-time great defenders of the Spanish top-flight? Well, let’s consider if he’s the best.
Boasting an Impressive Record
Concerning appearances, Ramos is closing in on a place in the all-time La Liga top-ten rankings. According to Silly Season, Andoni Zubizarreta tops the list with 622 matches played between 1981 and 1998. In the Spaniard’s position, Fernando Hierro, who played for Los Blancos and Real Valladolid, made 497 appearances. Although a defender, there’s far more to the 34-year-old’s game than keeping clean sheets. Across his first 507 games in the Spanish division, he’s found the back of the net 74 times and provided 31 assists. Although it’s not all about goals, by comparison, Hierro scored 105 goals and created a further nine.
Regarding the Spaniard’s trophy haul, few can match his achievements. Domestically, Ramos has four La Liga titles and two Spanish Cups to his name. The full extent of his triumphs, however, extend beyond the Spanish top-flight. Internationally, Madrid’s captain has twice won the European Championships and clinched the World Cup in 2021. Moreover, after his fourth Champions League title in 2017-18, Ramos become the first player in the sport’s history to captain a side to three consecutive successes within the competition.
Numerous Contenders for the Crown
While nothing will diminish Ramos achievements in La Liga, other players also have a case regarding the league’s best all-time defender. From a trophy standpoint, Hierro won the same number of Spanish titles as Ramos, but one less Spanish Cup. Furthermore, the battle between Madrid and Barcelona also exists within this discussion. With six La Liga triumphs, two Spanish Cups and six Spanish Super Cups to his name, Carles Puyol undoubtedly rivals Ramos.
Additionally, it’s impossible to overlook Ronald Koeman. Although the Dutch defender only played 192 games for Barcelona, he somewhat changed football’s outlook. During his six-year spell at the Nou Camp during the late-80s and early-90s, the Zaandam-born sweeper scored 67 goals. As a result of his contributions, he won four consecutive Spanish titles and was named Footballer of the Year in 1987 and 1988. Now, the 57-year-old manages Barcelona, and, as of March 4th, his side are 10/3 in La Liga betting to win the title in 2020-21.
Longevity Over Impact?
As good as Ramos has been, he hasn’t revolutionised football in the manner as Koeman. However, there’s no reason to say that’s the most decisive factor in this discussion. From a playing standpoint, Koeman had more in his locker. That said, Ramos will hang up his boots with more trophies to his name. Because of that, it’s not unreasonable to say that the 34-year-old is the best La Liga defender of all time.