Sergio Ramos accepts his omission from Spain’s Euro 2020 squad is for the best as he prepares for a close season of “rest”.
Real Madrid captain Ramos, Spain’s most-capped player with 180, was the standout absentee when Luis Enrique named a 24-man party for the tournament, which begins next month.
The 35-year-old struggled with injury problems throughout 2020-21 and was restricted to 21 appearances for Madrid across all competitions, with only one of those coming since the end of March
Nevertheless, Luis Enrique’s decision not to select Ramos caused surprise on Monday, particularly as he did not fill the full allocation of 26 players allowed in expanded Euro 2020 squads, nor find a spot for any other Real Madrid players.
But while there was a degree of shock, especially from Madrid fans, Ramos concedes it was probably the best decision for everyone.
“After a tough few months and a strange season unlike anything I have experienced in my career comes the Euros,” he wrote on his official Twitter account.
“I have fought and worked every day, in body and soul, to be able to reach 100 per cent for Real Madrid and the national team but things don’t always work out the way we’d like.
“It pains me not to have been able to help my team more and not to play for Spain but, in this case, the best thing to do is rest, fully recover and come back next year like we’ve always done. It hurts not to represent your country, but I have to be honest and sincere.
“I wish all my teammates the very best of luck and I hope we have a great Euros. I’ll be another fan cheering on from home. A big shout to everyone and ‘Viva Espana’, and ‘Hala Madrid’ always!”
Either way, Luis Enrique’s decision looks set to come under significant scrutiny for a while.
The former Barcelona coach explained Ramos “has not been able to compete since January in the right condition, or even train with group”, meaning he could not be included.
Yet, the Madrid defender has actually played more club minutes in that time (395) than Eric Garcia (360) – who in this squad – though the latter was left out of the Manchester City team due to Pep Guardiola preferring alternative options, rather than a patchy fitness record.
By the closing round of LaLiga fixtures on Saturday, which Ramos watched from the bench as Madrid lost their title, the 35-year-old had been absent for significantly more matches (31) for the side this season than he had played (21).
Those 21 games and 1,790 minutes are by far the fewest Ramos has played across a season since joining Madrid in 2005, undercutting the previous low marks of 33 and 2,843 in 2015-16.
Ramos was still able to play his part in seven clean sheets, more than the six Madrid managed with their captain on the field in 2016-17 when he appeared 44 times.
Ramos seemingly plans to keep going on the international stage and with good reason – he is just four caps behind the all-time international caps record in world football, which is held by Egypt great Ahmed Hassan.
Nevertheless, Ramos does have competition from Kuwait’s Bade Al-Mutawa, whose last cap in March put him on 181.