De la Fuente ends the illusion of Ramos | Sports | The USA Print

Sergio Ramos received a call yesterday that he was awaiting with concern. He knew it would happen, and he feared it would end as it did, although he still had some confidence in being surprised. Nine days earlier he had been quite satisfied with his level in the first leg of the Champions League round of 16 match against PSG-Bayern, despite the defeat (0-1). The Spanish coach, Luis de la Fuente, called him at the end of the morning, when the center-back was still in the sports city of the Parisian team, his exile after he missed the option to renew with Real Madrid in 2021 at expire your contract. And there, on the outskirts of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, another exile fell upon him, that of La Roja.

He told it a few hours later through a statement that he posted on his social networks: “He has told me that it does not count and that he will not count on me, regardless of the level that I can show or how my sports career continues,” he wrote without mentioning the name of the person in charge of the selection since the departure of Luis Enrique after the World Cup in Qatar.

The text reflects the bitterness of the footballer, who turns 37 next month: “With great regret, it is the end of a journey that I hoped would be longer and that it would end with a better taste in my mouth, at the level of all the successes that we have achieved with our Red”. Ramos won the 2010 World Cup and the 2008 and 2012 Euro Cups with the Spain jersey, with which he scored 23 goals in 180 games, more than anyone else, and the eighth most international caps in the history of any country.

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De la Fuente has started a round of calls these days in which he has already discussed his plans with more than a dozen footballers. The talk with Ramos went well, according to various sources familiar with its content. The coach told him that he would not have him in the next call-up, for the qualifying matches for the Eurocup against Norway and Scotland, on March 25 and 28, in Malaga and Glasgow. The central defender wanted to know then if there was the option of entering later, and De la Fuente’s response made it clear to him that his path with Spain had ended. The new coach intends to start building a team for the present, and especially for the future, in which he was clear from the beginning that the central defender did not fit, according to sources familiar with the project.

Ramos expressed his disagreement in the statement: “Humbly, I 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 due to age or other reasons that, without having heard them, I have felt. Because being young or less young is not a virtue or a defect, it is just a temporary characteristic that is not necessarily related to performance or ability.

Ramos had spoken publicly on several occasions about his hopes of extending his career. For example, in the presentation of his documentary series, in March 2021: “I can perform three, four or five years at the highest level,” he said. “And if my head holds up, I think I could make it to the World Cup in Mexico”, which will also be held in 2026 in the US and Canada. At that time he maintained the illusion of an extraordinary record: “he would be the only player in history to play six World Cups. The one in Qatar would be my fifth…”. But that one has already escaped him.

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Neither De la Fuente’s call nor his final time with the national team were as imagined. The last thing he did with Spain was some runs with the substitutes after a match against Kosovo in which he played four minutes in March 2021 at La Cartuja. He injured his left calf and never came back.

“I look with admiration and envy at Modric, Messi, Pepe… the essence, tradition, values, meritocracy and justice in football,” continues a statement with various reproaches to the coach. “Unfortunately it will not be like that for me, because football is not always fair and football is never just football.”

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