Sergio Ramos says his “conscience is clear” about the Mohamed Salah incident that overshadowed the 2018 Champions League final and that he is not concerned about any negative reaction at Wembley today.
The 32-year-old will captain Spain in their opening Nations League match away to England, as he plays in the country for the first time since Real Madrid’s victory over Liverpool in Kiev.
It is also his country’s first match back since their own disappointing World Cup campaign, which happens to be new manager Luis Enrique’s debut, with Ramos denying there is any tension between the two from the coach’s time at Barcelona.
Ramos was naturally asked again about the Salah incident, however, especially after a summer that has seen a lot of comment about the coming-together that saw the Egyptian’s Champions League final end prematurely. Jurgen Klopp specifically criticised the Spaniard’s approach to the challenge as “ruthless” and “brutal”. Ramos was however unwilling to add more fuel to the controversy.
“I have a clear conscience,” he said. “It doesn’t matter to me. I am not really concerned about that. I never wanted to hurt a colleague on the pitch. My conscience is very clear. I know the English fans will give the receptions players deserve. I am not worried about that in the slightest.”
Spain’s new manager Luis Enrique is meanwhile renowned as a spiky character, and there had been some suggestions he and Ramos might not see eye to eye. Aside from their history across the Madrid-Barcelona divide, the centre-half had been criticised for some of his conduct around a difficult World Cup for Spain, one that saw Julen Lopetegui sacked on the eve of the tournament for agreeing to the job at the Bernabeu.
There have been some suggestions that Luis Enrique has been brought in to oust the long-serving captain, but both denied this.“Maybe this was said because both of us have very strong characters,” Ramos said. “I have been playing for many years, I have the same drive, the same dreams. I want to keep winning but I want to always be in the first XI. It is a challenge for me.
“We have met before as rivals. It has been positive. We have got on well, as we both have strong characters but it’s good vibes. Our objective is to take the team to a higher level. We want to absorb Enrique’s knowledge.“It is a new coach which always demands more attention. We are trying to implement his philosophy. We are reflecting the way he thinks on the pitch. All this new information is good. We want it to be enjoyable for the fans.”