For all his talent on the pitch, Sergio Ramos has never been known for his ice-cool temperament.
Throughout his decorated career, picking up trophies with Real Madrid and Spain at the rate of knots, Ramos has amassed a staggering 29 red cards alongside a reputation for sh*thousery that saw the very word enter the football lexicon.
And we’re reassured to discover that the defender’s fire hasn’t dimmed with age. Far from it.
After two years at PSG, the 37-year-old returned to Sevilla last summer only to find his boyhood club a shadow of their former selves.
The Andalucians have endured a dreadful 2023-24 season to date, winning just three times in the league and finishing bottom of their Champions League group – denying them the chance to defend their Europa League trophy in the spring.
Sevilla have been an ever present force in La Liga since 2001 and they have only spent three campaigns outside Spain’s top flight since 1975.
Relegation would be unthinkable, especially for a generation that have grown accustomed to Sevilla as European trophy hoarders.
“It’s not the way we wanted to close out the year, but we fought until the end,” Ramos said before Christmas. “Now we’re focused on working and growing in 2024. There are things to improve and we’ll do it, together.”
But his rallying cry fell on ears without hearing aids. Sevilla’s first match of 2024 was a sorry 2-0 defeat against Athletic Bilbao at the Pizjuan, goals from Mikel Vesga and Aitor Parades consigning Ramos and his team-mates to another loss.
The veteran defender was speaking to a reporter on the sideline when events took an interesting turn, instantly elevating a contract obligation into something viral.
“Have some respect, we are talking,” he angrily shouted towards a fan who was apparently bellowing Spanish oaths at him from the stands.
“Respect the fans and the shield,” he continued, instantly bringing to mind a medieval king demanding unquestioning allegiance before a big joust. “Respect the fans and shut up now.”
For all of Ramos’ achievements during his illustrious career, giving him authority and a gravitas unmatched in the Spanish game, perhaps digging out one of your supporters wasn’t the wisest move without the moral high ground of results and good performances.
"¡TEN UN POCO DE RESPETO! ¡RESPETA A LA GENTE!”
— DAZN España (@DAZN_ES) January 4, 2024
“We have to endure everything. It’s the situation now,” he told the reporter. “We understand the frustration of the fans, it’s normal. It’s been a long time without winning, without giving them some happiness.”
“There were just two moves from them, two chances, and they took them both. It wasn’t the best first-half for us, but we came out with a high press in the second-half and we created opportunities, but we weren’t able to take them.”
Sevilla currently sit a single point clear of relegation oblivion, with Rafa Benitez’s Celta Vigo the only side closer to the drop zone currently occupied by Cadiz, Granada and Almeria.
With one win in its last 13 league matches, at Granada in December, the mood music surrounding the club is darker than Eminem spitting ‘Kim’ down a dimly-lit alleyway.
Quique Sanchez Flores, already Sevilla’s third manager of the season, is the man tasked with saving the club from ignominy.
You’d also expect Ramos to play a leading role in Sevilla’s quest for survival, especially if he can channel his inner furnace into something more productive than mouthing off at a supporter.
By Michael Lee