Madrid (AFP) – Sergio Ramos will break the record for most international caps made by a European player if he appears for Spain against Switzerland in the UEFA Nations League on Saturday.
Real Madrid defender Ramos is set to make his 177th appearance for Spain in Basel, which would pull him clear of goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, who has played 176 times for Italy.
Aged 34, Ramos could also break the world record, currently held by Egypt’s Ahmed Hassan who earned 184 caps.
It is possible Ramos will achieve that milestone at the delayed Euro 2020, which is now set to go ahead in June and July next year.
“Unfortunately for me as a coach he has to have a ceiling,” said Spain coach Luis Enrique after Wednesday’s 1-1 friendly draw with the Netherlands, when Ramos came on as a substitute.
“His numbers are only within reach of the gifted. He is a very special player, at a unique level.”
Luis Enrique has been criticised in Spain for bringing Ramos on in the 85th minute in Amsterdam, with some suggesting such appearances reduce the value of his record.
“The first thing is to take care of the player who has played more times for Spain than anyone else because of the calendar he has and because he plays every game for his club,” said Luis Enrique.
“We want to give him the opportunity to continue adding international caps but not to create good vibes. The feeling in the squad is the same regardless of whether Sergio plays one game more or less.”
Ramos made his debut for Spain in a 3-0 win over China in 2005, coming off the bench to replace Carles Puyol in a team that also featured Iker Casillas in goal and Xavi Hernandez in midfield.
All three players went on to drive the country’s historic treble, that included winning the European Championship in 2008 and 2012, as well as the World Cup in between.
Spain have failed to go past the last 16 in a major tournament since, with Ramos currently playing through a period of transition under Luis Enrique.
They sit top of their Nations League group ahead of Saturday’s game in Switzerland but have only one point more than Germany and Ukraine behind them.
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