the Sergio book – the XI of my life (I)
As promised, here are the first excerpts from Sergio Ramos – Corazón, Carácter y Pasión. The first several chapters deal with his sporting career and playing style, from his time at Sevilla to his move to Madrid, as well as his successes with La Roja. It’s not that interesting to me for this blog, since I prefer to focus on Sergio Ramos the person, so I’ve skipped a few chapters to the chapter entitled “The XI of my life,” which was written by Sergio (with some help, I’m sure) and therefore the only part of the book in first person.
My people are my family, the most important thing in my life. They’re the people who have given me professional and personal stability. During my first years, when I was playing for the youth teams of Sevilla, they were crucial for me. And they continue to be, because they’re always with me. When I went to Madrid, they dropped everything to be with me. Many young footballers have strayed because they didn’t have people to take care of them or give them good advice. My father José María and my brother René are the ones who have been closest to me, but my grandparents, my mother, my sister have also been important, just like my childhood friends, whom I consider part of my family.
It has always bothered me when negative things are said about my people, which occurs when things don’t go well for me or when I have two bad games in a row. They’re never mentioned when I win a title. They’ve always been there, they’ve never disappointed me. I want to take this opportunity to let the fans know that what is said is not always the truth. I am what I am thanks to my people. The criticism against my brother and my father give me courage, since they have sacrificed many things to take care of me. We’re viewed as being from Sevilla, from Andalucía and it appears that we’re always having a good time. But they have taught me a lot. My father knew how to raise me. He neither overly criticized me nor overly praised me.
There was a moment when his intervention was decisive for making me the person I am today. When I was in my first year of juveniles, Caparrós began calling me up to train with the first team. It was a critical moment. I either had to leave school or change to night classes, as the training sessions were in the morning. I was lost. I took my exams without studying. The director of the school told my parents that my attendance was poor, although that was justified by the practices. I had to make a decision. I remember that my father sat me down. He had realized that I was taking football seriously. My brother René was very good, and had even played for third division teams, but he didn’t take it seriously because he had other interests, and football was only a hobby for him.
I arrived home dead tired each day after the training sessions, as they were more intense than what I had been used to. I ate and I had to sleep two to three hours to recover. I started falling asleep in class and at home while studying. I realized that becoming an elite footballer would require a daily commitment of 24 hours. In this chat with me, my father told me that I could decide what I wanted to do, but if I chose football, I had to be completely dedicated to it. If everything went well, then we could go forward. If not, well I would still have time to make something of myself.
Both he and my mother were worried that I would stop studying and then not be successful with football. I even took night classes, until finally I could not continue studying, as football took up all of my time. Now I would like to study English [!!!!!] and other subjects. My father has been very demanding with me in this area. He has plenty of confidence in me, although I asked him not to say much, especially in front of other parents. It’s a privilege to have your father support you in each moment. He also spoke with René and told him to prepare and educate himself to spend 24 hours a day with me, handling my affairs, so that I could concentrate solely on football. René listened to him. From that point on, he’s been my shadow. It’s the same now, we’re in contact the entire day. I speak with my parents and my sister every day too. Until just a short while ago, we all lived together, although I had my independence.
It’s normal that my father has scolded me often since we have so much contact. I have his disposition, since I came from him. He’s very frank, very transparent, and that’s why he’s respected. I also have always said what’s on my mind and that has created problems for me. But there have been more good moments than bad. Seeing my father cry out of joy after a triumph makes me emotional. He doesn’t say a lot, but during Christmastime, he always tells me “I love you” or “I’m proud of you.” I’ve only seen my father cry twice: when my grandfather died, and during the World Cup.
René is a second father to me, in addition to being my brother and friend. I’ve told him everything – EVERYTHING – my whole life. I’ve never seen him get weak or complain. What my father put him in charge of was a personal objective, a commitment. I am what I am thanks to my people.
The truth about my transfer to Madrid.
I was just a kid, I had no experience, I had never won anything. To me, Real Madrid was another galaxy, something unattainable. My lifelong dream had been to be a Sevilla footballer. I was a sevillista de corazón, I went with the Biris to the Pizjuán. My second team was Deportivo because the Biris and the Riazor Blues were fraternal fan groups. That’s why I had the flag of Depor in my room, a Bebeto shirt and a Rivaldo poster. That summer, the newspapers spoke about a possible transfer each day…
At the end of August, there was a concentración with the national team and my brother and I came up with the idea of showing up in a white suit [bad idea, Sergio, very bad] to bring a bit of irony to the matter since there was a lot of tension. I bought a new suit. It brought me luck because everything went well. I entered the concentración as a Sevilla player and left as a Real Madrid player. My teammates teased me, asking me if I was going to a gala, if I was going to a wedding… Joaquín also showed up in a light colored suit, a beige one. We had purchased them from the same store.
We had a very unfortunate conversation with the president of Sevilla in his office. I never wanted to reveal it, but I believe now is the time for the fans to know what he said to me. We had already played the first game of the Liga and there were three or four days before the market would close. He told me that a canterano would never earn money in Sevilla. That bothered me a lot, although I was just a kid, and I told him not to forget that Sevilla was a great club due to its canteranos. Several months earlier, after there were reports that many clubs in Spain were interested in me, we had presented the club with a lifelong contract that it did not accept. It was a contract for 10 years with the only condition that we wanted to earn the same amount as the top earner on the team, which was always a foreign player. I told the president that it was a good idea to pay those who came from outside well, but that I also wanted him to recognize those who had come up from the lower categories and value them justly.
In the end, the transfer went through. It was a transfer. People usually only know one version of the story, theirs, and during many years they have held it against me when I returned to the Pizjuán. The truth is that Sevilla sold me like they had sold other players. In the beginning, I wanted to give a press conference to explain the situation and above all say goodbye to the fans, although I was advised against it.
[After this book came out, Sevilla released a document signed by Sergio Ramos which read “… through this document, I manifest my desire to settle and dissolve the work contract I have with Sevilla Club de Fútbol SAD as a professional player. This work contract stipulated that in the case of a unilateral resolution or dissolution on my part, I should pay Sevilla an indemnity of 27 million euros.” This was to show that Sergio hadn’t been sold, he had dissolved his contract.]
My arrival in Madrid was exciting, the presentation, the stadium, the fans. I had an idea of what it would be like, but I never imagined it would be that spectacular. I began sharing a locker room with those who had been my idols. The mere act of changing between Roberto Carlos and Zidane made my pulse race. And Ronaldo. And Beckham. Raúl and Casillas, whom I knew from the national team, helped me a lot. They were always looking after me.
A passion for tattoos.
Behind the left ear: the Chinese character for wolf, which is an animal that I like [he also said in the past that he got it because the two parts of the character look like his initials, SR].
Right shoulder blade: a goblin. I was 14 years old (it’s his first tattoo). When my father found out, he got incredibly angry. Back then, tattoos were becoming fashionable and so I got one.
Left forearm: the initials of my father and my mother, and between that, the lucky number, VII, in Roman numerals. The phrase above is written in the Elvish language from “Lord of the Rings” and translates to “I will never forget all of you.”
Left middle finger: the initials of the three siblings. All three of us have the same tattoo, although which letter is on top varies.
Right wrist: our names in Arabic. René has the same tattoo. My wrist is more decorated and next to the name there is also a small 4 in Arabic. The rest is a maori mixture.
Collage via Marca.
Upper inner arms (biceps): a Cicero quote. On the right arm, “The spirit of the dead lies…” Before the word “dead,” there is an IX, which stands for the day my father was born, and after “lies” is a 27 for the day my mother was born. On the left arm: “… in the memory of the ones alive.” Before the “the,” there is a 3, which is the day my sister was born and at the end, there is an XI for the day my brother was born.
Left upper outer arm: a mixture of things with personal significance. There is a Virgin, a Christ, a phrase in Italian (my family is my blood), a Star of David in memory of my grandmother Nena, who gave my mother a gold star which I often wear as a necklace, and the word “freedom” (in English).
Right upper outer arm: a potpourri of things that is not completed yet. It’s a mixture of feelings, there are musical notes, the Giralda, with a red star next to it, the key to my heart, the hand of Fátima with the eye symbol, a crown, a cross, two old-style military caps with the number 15, which is my number with the national team…
Hands: the names of my parents. On my right hand is Rubio, the nickname of my father, and on my left is Paqui, my mother’s name.
Ribs: a phrase of Nelson Mandela from the movie Invictus: “Thanks God for my unconquerable soul. I am the master… [right side] of my own destiny, the captain of my soul 30-03-86” [left side]. I’ve always admired him and I read quite a lot about him.
Lower back: I have the name of my sister, Miriam, my number 4, the name of my brother René and a cross.
Lower belly: it’s a response to the “S” that Mundi, my best friend, got first. It’s an “M” with two wings and two feathers.
Right calf: a small World Cup above that, the date 11-07-2010.
Sergio’s thoughts on La Roja and Antonio Puerta can be found here. And apologies for my lack of photography/Photoshop skills…