Captain Sergio Ramos has been dropped from the Spain squad for Euro 2020 in a sensational call from coach Luis Enrique, who has called up the inexperienced Eric Garcia instead.
Ramos is Spain’s all-time appearance maker with 180 caps and is their eighth-highest scorer, but he has had a campaign riddled with injuries and only made 21 appearances in all competitions for Real Madrid this term, including 15 LaLiga games.
Luis Enrique said he told Ramos on the phone on Sunday night that he was not in the squad and addressed the 35-year-old’s absence just after announcing his 24-man squad.
Sergio Ramos is Spain’s most capped player but has been left out of the squad for Euro 2020
Spain coach Luis Enrique said he could not pick Ramos due to a bad run of injuries this season
‘I’d like to send message to Sergio Ramos, our captain, who is not on the list as he has not been able to compete since January in the right condition, or even train,’ he said.
‘It was difficult and tough decision but its the best thing for the team.’
Ramos said the decision hurt but accepted the best thing to do was focus on returning to full fitness.
‘It pains me not to have been able to help my team more and not to play for Spain but, in this case, the best thing to do is rest, fully recover and come back next year like we’ve always done,’ he said on Twitter.
‘It hurts not to represent your country, but I have to be honest and sincere.
‘I have fought and worked every day, in body and soul, to be able to reach 100% for Real Madrid and the national team but things don’t always work out the way we’d like.
‘I wish all my team-mates the very best of luck and I hope we have a great Euros. I’ll be another fan cheering on from home.
The Spain squad for Euro 2020. Eric Garcia and Diego Llorente were picked ahead of Ramos
‘A big shout to everyone and #VivaEspaña Bandera de España and #HalaMadrid ⚪ always!’
Ramos underwent knee surgery in January and was only able to start two LaLiga games in 2021.
He picked up another injury last week and played no part in Real Madrid’s final game of the season against Villarreal on Saturday as they missed out on the LaLiga title to Atletico Madrid.
When he has played, such as in Real’s 2-0 defeat by Chelsea in the Champions League semi-final second leg, he has looked rusty and off the pace.
Aymeric Laporte was named in the Spain squad for the first time since switching nationalities
Ramos helped Spain win Euro 2008, the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012 (pictured)
‘I would have liked Ramos to be in the squad but I did not think it was viable because he has practically been unable to compete,’ Luis Enrique added.
Ramos started nine out of Spain’s 10 qualifying games and was part of the team that won Euro 2008 to end La Roja’s 44-year wait for a major trophy.
He was also an instrumental part of the team that won a first World Cup in 2010 and then became the first international side ever to win three consecutive major tournaments by winning Euro 2012.
His absence means Spain will be missing a crucial character in the dressing room as they look to return to former glories after disappointing showings in recent tournaments.
Spain were knocked out of the group stage at the 2014 World Cup as holders and then fell at the last 16 stage at Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup.
FULL SPAIN EURO 2020 SQUAD
Goalkeepers: Unai Simon (Athletic Bilbao), David de Gea (Manchester United), Robert Sanchez (Brighton)
Defenders: Pau Torres (Villarreal), Aymeric Laporte (Manchester City), Diego Llorente (Leeds United), Eric Garcia (Manchester City), Jordi Alba (Barcelona), Jose Gaya (Valencia) Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea)
Midfielders: Sergio Busquets (Barcelona) Rodri (Manchester City), Thiago Alcantara (Liverpool), Pedri (Barcelona), Marcos Llorente (Atletico Madrid), Koke (Atletico Madrid), Fabian Ruiz (Napoli)
Forwards: Gerard Moreno (Villarreal), Ferran Torres (Manchester City), Mikel Oyarzabal (Real Sociedad), Alvaro Morata (Juventus), Dani Olmo (RB Leipzig), Pablo Sarabia (Paris Saint-Germain), Adama Traore (Wolves)
They will also need to find a new penalty taker as Ramos had assumed spot-taking responsibilities for some time, often out-foxing goalkeepers with the ‘Panenka’ routine he first executed in a semi-final penalty shootout win over Portugal at Euro 2012.
Ramos’ exclusion also means no Real Madrid players will represent Spain at a major tournament for the first time ever after Enrique chose not to call up Nacho, who has been one of Real’s most reliable defenders this season due to the prolonged absence of Ramos and Raphael Varane.
Enrique, who used to play for Real Madrid but switched to Barcelona in a controversial move before then going on to coach the Catalans, insisted he had nothing against Zinedine Zidane’s side.
He said: ‘If Dani Carvajal and Ramos were fit they would have come. I don’t make my list like that (based on team preferences).’
Ramos has scored 23 goals for Spain from defence and is their leading penalty taker
Manchester City’s Eric Garcia was included in the squad for the Euros ahead of Ramos
Spain had the chance to name 26 players after UEFA changed its rules on squad numbers but Enrique decided to only name 24.
Manchester City centre back Laporte was included in the squad as expected after switching nationalities from France to Spain earlier this month.
Enrique played a leading role in getting Laporte to declare for Spain, but he said the French-born player’s inclusion had nothing to do with Ramos.
And he said he was ready for the storm of criticism that awaits him for leaving out one of Spain’s best ever players as well as a hugely popular character.
‘It hurts not to represent your country, but I have to be honest and sincere,’ said Ramos
‘It has nothing to do with it. He (Laporte) is someone who can give us a lot but it cannot be seen as related with Ramos’s absence,’ he added.
‘Any decision about Ramos has always been controversial but I know where I am and I accept that as something normal and I don’t expect it to affect the squad.’
But the biggest surprise was the inclusion of Laporte’s Man City team-mate Garcia, who only started only one Premier League game with City this season.
Enrique also had to leave out another injured defender in Athletic Bilbao centre back Inigo Martinez but he recalled Chelsea full back Cesar Azpilicueta.
Other surprises saw Pablo Sarabia of Paris Saint-Germain named as one of the forwards after making 13 Ligue 1 appearances this season.
Sarabia and Wolves forward Adama Traore, who was also called up for the tournament, have made just one start each for Spain.
Spain begin their Euro 2020 campaign on June 14 against Sweden in Group E before facing Poland and Slovakia.
They will play their three group games at Seville’s La Cartuja stadium after Bilbao was stripped of hosting rights by UEFA after being unable to guarantee it could accommodate supporters due to coronavirus restrictions.
Wolves forward Adama Traore will bring more power and pace to a new-look Spain side
Ramos played his first tournament in the 2006 World Cup and had been a mainstay since