Once again Sergio Ramos was the hero for Real Madrid at the weekend.
It’s hardly a surprise anymore when he pops up like he did against Real Betis to score for Los Blancos at a crucial time.
Real Madrid were drawing 1-1 with less than ten minutes to go, but up stepped their captain to head them into a 2-1 lead, which they kept.
When he celebrated he celebrated with a ‘call me' gesture.
Sergio Ramos: Need a late goal? Call me. pic.twitter.com/ULr1tl6WJ3
— ???????? ?.⓫ (@abdallah_rm11) March 12, 2017
And when Real Madrid need someone to score the crucial goal, they might as well always call their captain because his record at changing games is quite honestly unbelievable.
A knack of scoring at the right time
As Alexis Martín-Tamayo, the Spanish sports tactician pointed out, 19 of Ramos’ last 23 goals (83 per cent) for Madrid have come when his team is losing or winning.
That’s simply remarkable.
— MisterChip (Alexis) (@2010MisterChip) March 13, 2017
The tweet may be in Spanish, but you get the idea: with his goalscoring record in the last three years broken down into when he’s scored to hand Real Madrid the lead, draw them level, to extend their lead or to reduce a lead.
More often than not, it’s one of the first two.
And you just know he’s going to be there.
Big game player
Everyone wants someone who can thrive in the big games, but it is not necessarily something that you can teach a player.
Some player struggle in the big games, as Mesut Özil’s critics will point out, while others thrive.
Sergio Ramos has more goals than David Silva,Kevin De Bruyne and Ozil this season.Prolific!!!
— L. (@EmexAvator) March 14, 2017
READ MORE: Arsenal Need To Drop Mesut Özil To Save Their Season
But there are a few players who not only thrive but are always there when it matters most.
And none more so than Ramos.
His name is etched in the history of Real Madrid.
He has won a number of trophies during his time at the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu, including three league titles, two Copas del Rey, two Champions Leagues, two UEFA Super Cups and two Club World Cups.
The defender was also part of the greatest ever period in Spanish football, when La Roja ruled the international footballing world, winning the World Cup in 2010, and the European Championships in 2008 and 2012.
You can’t be someone who doesn’t thrive in the big games if you have won that much.
Indeed, Ramos headed the equaliser as Real Madrid were staring down the barrel of defeat in the Champions League final in 2014.
Deep into injury-time, he popped up, as he so often does, to head home and take the tie to extra-time, with Los Blancos coming out on top against city rivals Atlético Madrid to claim La Décima, the club’s 10th European Cup.
But it wasn’t just in the final where Ramos stood up and took the game by the scurf of the neck when necessary.
En route to that historic win in 2014, he scored the first two goals in the memorable 4-0 away win at Bayern Munich.
A lot of players would end there and stay a legend in the fans’ eyes, but not Ramos.
Once again, he stepped up to the plate when his side needed him and scored again in the Champions League final against Atleti last May.
Not only that, but he fired home from the penalty spot during a penalty shootout as Zinedine Zidane’s side reclaimed the trophy.
But it’s not like he’s only the hero in the Champions League.
He loves a goal in other competitions too – scoring in the semi-final and the final of the Club World Cup in 2014 to help Los Blancos win another trophy.
While back in August, he once again took a final to extra time by heading in a late leveller, when Real Madrid were losing to Sevilla last August in the UEFA Super Cup final.
Once again, Madrid went onto win it.
If this was the record of a striker, it would be unbelievable, but Ramos is a defender, which makes it all the more impressive.
Should Ramos focus on his defensive duties?
In La Liga, Ramos is facing extensive criticism for his defensive work.
Madrid have conceded 22 goals in the 17 league matches that Ramos has started this season, while they have let in just four goals in the eight games he has missed.
Indeed, pundit Terry Gibson told Sky Sports his defensive form is a worry for Zindane.
“He's an iconic player now for Real, and will be forever, so it's weighing up the two.
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“I've had this debate about Marcelo too — how good he is going forward, which can be unbelievable, but I don't think he's the best defender.
“It's a difficult one for Zidane. You understand all the merits of Ramos, but you have to consider the defensive aspects.
“However, there's that bit of spirit within Ramos that spreads among the players, especially when they're in losing positions.”
And that’s the point, while he may not be the best defender, there is no better player to have on your team when they’re losing than Ramos.
He steps up to the mark so often.
In La Liga, his header sealed a crucial point in the last minute of the Clásico away at the Camp Nou in December.
The 30-year-old did it once more just before Christmas when Los Blancos edged past Deportivo La Coruña 3-2.
“I don’t know how Ramos does it,” team-mate Álvaro Morata said after that match.
“You think ‘will he do it again?’
“I can’t believe it, bloody hell he’s done it again!”
And quite simply, it is unbelievable, but Ramos just won’t stop scoring goals in crucial matches to change Los Blancos’ fortunes – it’s a record not many have and arguably there is no better big-game player around at the moment.