Why You'll Like Him
If you like your defenders to join the attack, Ramos is your man. He's as good a goal-scorer as any defender and often finds himself in the offensive third. He's not bad on the eyes, either, if that's your thing.
Why You'll Hate Him
If you like your defenders to stay at home and focus all their energy on stopping other offenses, Ramos will drive you crazy. Not only does he occasionally vacate his defensive responsibilities, but he has a penchant for being booked. He's also got a pretty boy look that has no place on the pitch.
There aren't very many defensive players that can make the casual fan fall in love with soccer. Sergio Ramos is one glowing exception.
Not only does the 24-year-old have a flare for doing things with the ball that no one this side of the Matrix trilogy should be capable of doing, but he does it while flashing a smile, mugging for the camera and then stealing your heart with an honest show of emotion toward a fallen friend. Basically, that's what he did while helping lead Spain to the Euro 2008 championship, La Furia Roja's first significant title since winning the European championship in 1964.
Although Ramos didn't score any goals in the tournament, his play at right back was key to the Spaniards' clean-sheet run through the knockout stage. In the aftermath of the victory, Ramos made hearts swoon by wearing a shirt that paid homage to good friend and former teammate Antonio Puerta.
Position: Right back
Club Teams: FC Sevilla (2003-05), Real Madrid (2005-present)
National Team Debut: March 26, 2005 vs. China
World Cup(s): 2006
After spending his entire youth career in Sevilla, he debuted with the big club in 2004 at the age of 17. He essentially played one season there before Madrid paid a then record $32 million transfer fee to acquire him.
It was with Madrid that he blossomed. Playing with a team that was dubbed Los Galacticos because of the other-worldly talent that had been assembled, Ramos managed to still make a name for himself. He scored five goals his first season -- including one in UEFA Champions League play -- and cementing himself as a starter almost immediately.
During his second season there, Los Blancos won the first of back-to-back La Liga titles, ending a frustrating three-year trophy drought.
Since his star power peaked in 2008, his devotion to the sport has occasionally been questioned, but he always seems to answer his critics with impressive displays on the field.
After making an immediate impact with Spain's U-21 team, Ramos made his debut with La Furia Rojas at the tender age of 18 (just four days before he turned 19) during a friendly with China. At the time it was the youngest debut for a Spanish national team member in 55 years, though it was bested a relatively short time later by Cesc Fabregas.
He made his competitive debut four days later, while starting in a World Cup qualifier against Serbia & Montenegro. He scored his first two goals for the national team seven months later in another qualifier and has essentially been entrenched as a starter ever since.
Among the more disappointing results his teams have been a part of was the Round of 16 elimination in the 2006 World Cup, a tournament in which Spain was the only side to win all of its group games.
Although not fully redemptive, Ramos helped lead Spain to a Euro 2008 title and to a world No. 1 ranking.
In recent years, Ramos has not been asked to be as much of a goal scorer for the national side. His last goal in a fully competitive match was in late 2007 during Euro '08 qualifying.
What to Look For
Your views on Ramos are probably shaped by how much of a traditionalist you are. While perfectly capable of playing the shutdown defender and being on his best behavior, Ramos is rarely satisfied doing those things. Just as often as not, you'll find him galavanting up the field -- with or without the ball -- at least theoretically abandoning his defensive mates.
His free-wheeling ways do tend to get him in trouble, as he's managed to acquire cards at a rate of about .3 per match (76 cards in 255 professional matches) over his career.
Really, though, would the soccer world rather tame this mustang than let him run wild? When he's on his game, he's a sight to behold. While watching him join the attack, you're tempted to say his skill is wasted on defense as he corkscrews an opponent into the ground, launches a pitch perfect cross or scores a laser-beam header. But then you see him save a goal while sliding through the goal mouth or pick the pocket of a world-class player, and you realize that maybe his talent would actually be wasted on offense.
Whether you like his style or not, it can't be denied that he is among the most exciting players in the world.
I don't know if he's the world's best defender, but he's certainly one of the most fun to watch.
In addition to being fun to read, Jeremiah Oshan is one of SB Nation's best soccer content contributors. He makes his home at Sounder at Heart, SB Nation's Seattle Sounders FC blog.