KIEV, May 27 (Reuters) - Sergio Ramos was the final Real Madrid player to board the team’s bus in the early hours of Sunday morning after the Champions League final win over Liverpool and he did so grinning from ear to ear, showing off the enormous trophy to reporters.
Ramos is used to the feel of the most coveted piece of silverware in European football, having won it four times in the past five seasons, three as Real Madrid’s captain, and each time he has hogged the headlines, for better or worse.
In Kiev, the Spain defender was the centre of attention for tangling with Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah, an incident that led to the Egypt striker being forced off after half an hour with a shoulder injury which has thrown his World Cup participation into doubt.
Early in the second half, Ramos appeared to strike Liverpool goalkeeper Loris Karius in the head with his elbow. The German continued playing but later committed two catastrophic errors to allow Karim Benzema to open the scoring and Gareth Bale to strike Real’s third goal which effectively ended the game as a contest.
Liverpool coach Juergen Klopp likened Ramos’s challenge on his talismanic striker Salah to a wrestling move but stopped short of saying the Spaniard had meant to hurt his player.
“I know if you say something like that after a game you lost, it sounds like you are a little bit a bad loser but it was, for me, kind of a harsh challenge,” Klopp said.
“It’s like wrestling a little bit and it’s unlucky then that Mo fell on his shoulder.”
Former Egypt striker Mido was more scathing of Ramos.
“Anyone that understands football would know that Ramos injured Salah intentionally. Any player in the world would’ve released his arm but Ramos held onto his arm and spun with it,” Mido tweeted.
Former Manchester United and England centreback Rio Ferdinand absolved Ramos of blame, saying on BT Sport: “I would say I thought it was very good defending from Ramos and I don’t really think he meant to do that.”
Ramos was not asked by reporters about the incidents with Salah or Karius but he later sent the Egyptian forward a message on Twitter, writing: “Sometimes football shows you its good side and other times the bad. Above all, we are fellow pros.”
Ramos has now won 10 major titles with Madrid as well as two European Championships and a World Cup with Spain.
“This is a dream come true, it’s utter madness, I’ve won as many Champions Leagues as Liga titles,” he said.
“We knew it would be a difficult game against a great team, they have a coach who has transmitted to them a philosophy of effort but they ran out of steam.”
The Madrid captain also provoked controversy in last year’s 4-1 win over Juventus in the final by appearing to dive after receiving the slightest of contact from Juan Cuadrado, who was sent off with a few minutes remaining.
Ramos headed in the 93rd-minute equaliser in the 2014 final against Atletico Madrid to save Madrid’s skin and set up their 10th European triumph with a 4-1 win in extra-time.
He scored their first goal in the 2016 showpiece against Atletico and again came to his side’s rescue with a cynical challenge on Antoine Griezmann to halt a late counter-attack when the game was poised 1-1, later converting his penalty in the shootout win. (Reporting by Richard Martin, editing by Neil Robinson)