the Sergio book – Sergio without boots (I)
Well, I think we could all use a little pick-me-up, so here is the next excerpt from Sergio’s book. We have finished the chapter “The XI of My Life,” and now we’re starting the chapter “Sergio Without Boots,” where various people close to him, such as his parents, his siblings and his friends, speak about him.
Let’s start with Paqui and Rubio. But first…
A little biography.
Sergio came into this world on an Easter Sunday, March 30, 1986. He was the third child in the Ramos-García family, following René (now 34) and Miriam (28). Paqui went into labor in the morning, called her mother Reyes and they went to the Hospital Universitario Virgen del Rocío de Sevilla together. The family lived in Camas, in the Jardín Atalaya complex. It was a modern complex. Sergio spent the first 11 years of his life there in the fourth block, second floor. In front was a small square, where trees and stones served as goalposts. In the back, which his bedroom window faced, was a football field with real goals. Less than 50 meters away was the public school La Colina. Sergio spent a great part of his childhood in this area.
When he was 12, the family moved to Tomares, a nearby town, and to another community: El Mirador. He was already playing for Sevilla and tried to combine his studies with football. He says, “those were difficult moments, with the entire family looking out for me and taking me to practice. I will never forget their efforts and sacrifice. I will be eternally grateful to my grandparents, my siblings and my parents.”
Memories of his mother, Paqui.
Sergio weighed 3.950 kilograms when he was born, about the same as René or Miriam. As a boy, he didn’t cause me any big problems. He slept well and ate everything, unlike his brother. He’s always eaten well. There are dishes, such as chickpeas, that he doesn’t like but then you make them into a puree and he’ll eat them without any fuss. His favorite dish is chicken with sauce.
He was a whirlwind, he never stopped and was never still. He was also very happy, cheerful, always with a smile. He always asked us for football boots, and when he was four or five, we bought him a Depor kit. That was the one he chose when he went to the store…
I always tried to make him take a siesta, especially during those hot Sevilla afternoons, but as soon as I turned around, he was back out on the street. Luckily, there was no traffic in our area. He was either in the square out front or on the field out back. He was always with his sister Miriam, who is 18 months older. They grew up together and had the same friends, but he didn’t like that she was always with him.
He didn’t like any other games that didn’t involve the ball, although he did like cars and card games. He’s very lucky, he always wins. When he was nine, he signed for Sevilla and his life changed, because from then on, there was only school and training. Meanwhile, we moved to Tomares and every day my husband or I and later on his brother would take him to train and to games on the weekends. I didn’t like football, but after watching him play so many times, I began to like it. I’ve suffered a lot, because back then he wasn’t as big and strong as he is now. He was shorter, very small. And each time I saw him on the ground, my heart would leap out of my chest.
He was a good student. He didn’t always study, but he was intelligent. His sister did study constantly. What took her three hours of studying to learn, he could learn in half an hour. There was a moment when he was 14 or 15, when the principal of his school called us to tell us he was falling behind. She told us that he would have to give up football! He switched to night classes, but he suffered. He would fall asleep at the dinner table or while studying. There were weeks when he trained both in the morning and afternoon. We hired tutors for him, but he didn’t like it. For us, as parents, it was a moment of great responsibility, because it’s very difficult to accept that one of your children has to renounce his education for football. In many cases, the boys don’t make it. But he knew what he wanted and he insisted. He was convinced that he would make it.
His obsession with football changed the family’s lifestyle, because we had to organize our lives around the training sessions. When he got home, he would tell me how things went. He’s always done that, but as time went by, he would only tell me anecdotes, nothing serious. He was always very responsible. As he grew up, he realized that his life wasn’t like that of his friends. He didn’t go out on weekends, he would stay at home with his friends and his sister because the next day he had a game.
He had to grow up quickly. I’ve cried a lot because he wasn’t able to enjoy the same things that other kids his age did. Going to the Feria, the Semana Santa, going out on weekends. He found solace in music and his sister. One day he finally made it to one of those fairs. He didn’t want to go on any of the rides, he only wanted to play one of those arcade shooting games to win a stuffed animal for Miriam [how adorable and sweet!].
There was a time when he said he wanted to be a bullfighter, but football’s pull was stronger. We had already suffered watching him play football, so imagine what it would have been like to see him as a bullfighter! At home, we all loved bullfighting; it’s a family tradition. We didn’t usually take him because he was so young, but one day we went to La Maestranza during the Feria. He was three or four years old. That day, Curro Romero, Rafael de Paula and Antonio Ordóñez were the toreros. While Curro was fighting, Sergio began to say that he had to pee. Those who were sitting near us began getting nervous. I was so embarrassed. I couldn’t get up in the middle of the fight. In addition, it was a good afternoon for Curro. I will never forget it. We were in the first row, the entire plaza was silent…
He always saved his money. He received an allowance and he never spent it all. He would even lend money to his brother René, who did spent all of his. Each time René asked him for money, he would tell him when he had to return it by and what the interest rate was. However, he has always been generous when it comes to his family. He’s always been very meticulous with the presents he gives to me. He always surprises me when I least expect it; it doesn’t have to be a special day. He is very much a mama’s boy, but his grandmother Reyes was the one he really preferred.
He always liked dressing up for parties. When he was a kid, he would always wear a tie for to celebrate birthdays. After that, he would wear René’s clothes, and when he had his own money, he would purchase clothing. He is how he seems. His refuges are music, his family and the countryside, and also his ranch now.
At home, he wasn’t very mischievous, and whenever he did something, it was obvious because he didn’t know how to hide it.
Memories of his father, José María.
If anyone is at fault for Sergio’s love for the game, it’s me, since when I was 19 I trained three times with Sevilla’s first team. Back then, Max Merkel was the coach, and José María Negrillo was his assistant. Then I went to do my military service and I injured my knee. They told me that it was serious but I didn’t want to be operated on since there was a high risk of me becoming lame. In addition, they told me that I wouldn’t have any problems living a normal life if I didn’t play any sport that required a lot of effort. Many years later I finally got the operation and I even went to South Africa on crutches, since I wasn’t going to miss seeing my son become a world champion after all that we had been through…
I like playing football, but I’m not passionate about it. I was a bit irregular. I played when I felt like it. René was a bit like me. We were told that we were good, but we liked other things in addition to football. My entire family supported Sevilla.
At the age of seven, Sergio was already playing for Camas. He would go with his brother to the training sessions, and if the older boys let him play with them, he would. Since he couldn’t become affiliated until he was nine, he told everyone he was nine and played for Camas’ benjamín team. The same thing occurred when he went to Sevilla, he said he was nine when he was only eight.
He always liked playing with the older kids. They put him in as the goalkeeper and they took hard shots at him. He liked it, but I convinced him to change positions. Back then, he was very small and short. He didn’t start growing until he was 12 or 13. When we got to Sevilla, Pablo Blanco was there. He not only took a chance on Sergio, but also followed his progression and helped him a lot with personal issues. Another important man in his career was Joaquín Caparrós. He was very lucky to meet a coach who was much more than a coach and also a sports father at the age of 15 or 16. He was the one who convinced Sergio that he could make it if he wanted, and Sergio really wanted it. It might sound bad coming from me, since I’m his father, but those who have watched him grow up know that Sergio has worked as hard as anyone else. Later on, he was lucky to be in the right place at the right time.
Sergio was already a pro when he was 15. He listened, watched, learned. He arrived for training sessions one hour early, and left one hour after everyone else. He had the ability to stick to those who could teach him things. Darío Silva, for example, was someone who explained things to him and would take him to training sessions. At times, Sergio, all of 16, even made him wait.
When René was 14 or 15, I had to tell him to take football seriously or to give it up and focus on something else. He was very talented, but he didn’t have the right attitude. With Sergio, we decided to focus on football even if it meant leaving his studies behind, the last thing we wanted to do. I told René that he should take charge of his brother and to prepare himself in the best possible way to help him with whatever he needed. From the beginning, he was up to the challenge. In one year, we signed four different contracts.
I usually took Sergio to training sessions in his mother’s Ford Fiesta. At times his mother or brother would take him. One day, there was a mix-up and we left him at the training grounds. The training session ended and he sat down to wait for us. It was winter, and the sky quickly got dark. Many of his teammates’ parents asked him if he wanted a ride, but he said no, since his father or brother would come to pick him up. No one came, the fields were closed for the night and the dogs were let loose. They went for Sergio and he had to climb a tree to escape them, until the security guard passed by, saw what had happened, got the dogs under control and called us to tell us to come get him.
The entire family attended the games, both home and away, including when he played for the Sevilla city team or the Andaluz provincial team. The first time he did a flip to celebrate a goal was with the Sevilla city team, against Cádiz. We won 3-1 and he scored two goals. Back then, he did it without hands and forward. Now he flips backwards.
He was loved at the Ciudad Deportiva because he was noble. He always had a good relationship with the fisios, the equipment managers, the security guards. He wasn’t one to approach the stars, but one day there was no water in the locker room of his team and so he went to the first team’s locker room to shower. He began talking with Mami Quevedo, who gave him some boots. He hasn’t forgotten about this, and for him Quevedo is untouchable. Sergio wasn’t a kiss up, but once in a while he would return with boots given to him by Gallardo, Moya or Carlitos.
His room was full of shirts and photos. As a kid, he supported Sevilla and also Deportivo, which we didn’t understand. He said he liked Rivaldo and Bebeto. One day, he went to the Colón de Sevilla hotel to ask for the autographs of Barcelona’s players. He wasn’t allowed in, so he snuck in through a window and was caught by security. As he was about to be thrown out, Miguel Ángel Nadal, Rafa’s uncle, asked him whose autograph he wanted. He said Ronaldo and Nadal accompanied him to where Ronaldo was and he signed an autograph for him. Later on in Madrid, they became great friends and he told Ronaldo this story. They were such good friends that Sergio even purchased Ronaldo’s house when he left for Milan. [I love this anecdote!]