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Sergio Ramos: A winner by nature

Sergio Ramos is never far from the headlines; but as a captain he's both a leader and a winner

Real Madrid CF v Rayo Vallecano de Madrid - La Liga Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Sergio Ramos remains one of Real Madrid's most influential defenders and wears his heart on his sleeve, so to speak. A firm favourite at the Bernabéu due to his total commitment both on and off the pitch, he's having a lot of bad publicity at the moment due to his recent sending-off at A Coruña.

It seems as though all and sundry are taking it turns to hammer him in the media.

As one of those players for whom there is no 'in-between', the word 'average' doesn't exist in Sergio's vocabulary. Everything has to be all or nothing.

The downside of that is when he's maybe just a little bit late with a challenge the cards are instantly produced by the referees.

Reputations go a long way in football; and Sergio's reputation certainly seems to go before him.

It's not only with the match officials either. As soon as the red card came out on Sunday night in the game against Deportivo La Coruña, the stats quickly followed telling us all how many times he's been sent off in his career.

It's 23 in total,18 in La Liga for the record; but this time they really have gone to town. ''What is wrong with this guy'' they ask. ''Has he no self-discipline?''

It's getting boring. This week we've even read about him committing a far worse offence than being sent off -disrespecting Lionel Messi!

Give us a break; the truth behind the disrespect comment is that players like Sergio Ramos don't bow to reputations.

There's an old saying in football about not showing your opponent too much respect; and like it or not, that extends to when Lionel Messi et al are in the opposing team.

Does anyone seriously think Sergio Ramos or any other player worth his salt is going to stand off Messi in a 'Clásico' and let him run the show just because of who he is?

Let's get real. It doesn't work like that in the professional game and the same goes for events off the field. People like Sergio Ramos are hardly going to ignore words in the tunnel (or anything else of a similar nature) but that doesn't mean they're automatically going to rise to the bait.

The main issue stems from the fact that while public perceptions of a player can be influenced by the media, so too can certain situations during a game. People expect him to bite; and play on his perceived lack of discipline.

It seems that trying to get Sergio Ramos sent off by attempting to wind him up has become a common trick these days. In general, he does show more discipline than lapses. As always, though, it's the situations that end up with a card that stick in people's memories.

As we said, reputations count in football.

The red card issued on Sunday night appeared to have more to do with the perception that because it was Sergio Ramos then the challenge on Borja Valle would be illegal.

Even Pepe Mel looked uncomfortable with the referee's decision.

There's a huge difference between competing fairly for the ball while at the same time using your arms to increase momentum and blatantly leading with the elbow in a deliberate attempt to injure another player.

While we all accept that stricter enforcement of the rules is necessary to prevent players deliberately leading with the elbow, it doesn't mean that every aerial challenge that involves using the arms is illegal.

Despite all the recent criticism over being red-carded against Deportivo La Coruña on Sunday night, there's not much doubt that Sergio Ramos will be missed in Real's line-up.

With the full support of Zinedine Zidane, the club immediately appealed against the second yellow card that led to Sergio's dismissal.

That says everything. If Zidane felt that Ramos was a liability then clearly he wouldn't play him week in week out far less give him the captaincy.

It's time this was acknowledged outside of Real Madrid circles and Sergio Ramos is given the credit he deserves for being the exceptional leader he is. It would be great to read about that part of his game in future instead of everyone focussing on the negatives.

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