Head coach Fernando Hierro (L) of Spain with Sergio Ramos. (Getty)
Head coach Fernando Hierro (L) of Spain with Sergio Ramos. (Getty)

Sergio Ramos can score more than me: Fernando Hierro

  • Like Ramos, Hierro has been a Real Madrid and Spain captain; it fit that Hierro would say that “without a doubt” he “really wants” Ramos to stay at Real and help the La Liga champions rebuild.
By Dhiman Sarkar, Kolkata
UPDATED ON JAN 14, 2021 01:23 PM IST

As he got the translation, Fernando Hierro threw his head back, laughed and said: “He probably can. He has the mindset. He is very focused, has great motivation and always loves a challenge. He is certainly going to try very hard.” The question was: can Sergio Ramos score more goals than him?

In his 17th season, Ramos has scored 23 goals for Spain, the most by a defender in international football. The 34-year-old central defender has 126 goals for Sevilla, Real Madrid and Spain. Hierro, also a central defender but who played in midfield as well, has 158 including 29 for Spain. Along with Lionel Messi, Ramos is an “emblematic” player, said Hierro, on Wednesday afternoon’s Zoom call. “They represent two of the best clubs in the world.”

ALSO READ: Frederic Kanoute backs Sevilla to compete for title soon

Like Ramos, Hierro has been a Real Madrid and Spain captain; it fit that Hierro would say that “without a doubt” he “really wants” Ramos to stay at Real and help the La Liga champions rebuild. “Because of what he means for Real Madrid, his leadership, his performance. He is at an extraordinary level at the moment,” said Hierro, who is an ambassador for the Spanish league.

With nine goals and two assists in 13 games, Luis Suarez has been crucial to Atletico Madrid bossing the league. Hierro said the decision to sign Suarez after Barcelona decided to prune their wage bill has been a very important one for Atletico Madrid. “He is a player who can offer a lot. He has a great capacity to work and is one of the best strikers in the world.” Only Messi (11 goals) and Villarreal’s Gerrard Moreno (10) have scored more but both (and Celta Vigo’s Iago Aspas who has also scored nine) have played more games.

ALSO READ: Winning everything: Zinedine Zidane’s time as Real Madrid manager

Atletico Madrid’s 2-0 win against Sevilla on Tuesday opened a four-point lead at the top having played two games less than second-placed Real Madrid and Barcelona, who are third, but in what he termed a “special” season being played in a "cold atmosphere", Hierro said things could change.

“Atletico Madrid have been the most regular (consistent) team till now. (But) the calendar is very demanding this time. Real and Barcelona will play the Super Cup this week. Then, there is the Copa del Rey from where Atletico were eliminated. Once the Champions League resumes, you will have games every three days. So, teams have to be at a very good physical level but mental health will be important too.”

Tuesday’s defeat put Europa League champions Sevilla in sixth place but Hierro said they are a team on its way up. When current Sevilla coach Julen Lopetegui took Spain to the 2018 World Cup, Hierro was the football federation’s sporting director. “I have seen Julen from when he as the under-19 coach of Spain and have worked with him on a daily basis. He has the ability, a lot of personality and is an excellent professional. “

The last time Hierro, 52, was Spain’s sporting director, he had to step in as coach when Lopetegui was fired before the World Cup because news broke that he would be joining Real Madrid after the competition. In an earlier stint in the same role, Spain won two European championships and the 2010 World Cup on his watch. Asked if “La Roja” would scale such heights again, Hierro said: “It is very difficult to compare generations. That generation was marvellous but Spain will always have a good national team because it has an extraordinary league and players all over the world. I really hope Spain will win the European championships this year. That would be sensational.”

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