Sergio Ramos on Salah: ‘My conscience is really clear’

Ian Watson

Sergio Ramos will lead out Spain at Wembley for their Nations League clash with England unconcerned by any negative reception he may endure from the home fans.

The Real Madrid defender became public enemy number one among many Liverpool supporters after his tussle with Mohamed Salah forced the forward off with a shoulder injury in the Champions League final.

Ramos went on to lift the trophy for a third successive year as Madrid ran out 3-1 winners but found himself accused of setting out to deliberately injure Liverpool’s key man.

Saturday’s match will be the first time the 32-year-old has played in England since May’s final but he is not worried by the potentially fiery reception he may receive.

“I’m not really concerned about that,” Ramos said.

“I never wanted to hurt a colleague on the pitch, of course, so my conscience is really clear about what I did that night. I’m not going to be affected by that at all.

“I know the English fans will treat players as they deserve and I’m not worried about that in the slightest.”

Ramos remains captain of his country despite a dismal World Cup for the 2010 winners.

With former coach Julen Lopetegui axed on the eve of the tournament having agreed to take over at Real Madrid following the finals, Fernando Hierro was placed in charge.

But Spain crashed out on penalties to hosts Russia in the last 16 and will now be looking to build under new manager Luis Enrique.

A former Barcelona boss, there was plenty of speculation that Enrique’s appointment would spell the end of Ramos’ international involvement.

But the pair insist there is no bad blood between them as they work together for the first time, with Ramos keen to move Spain forward.

“I think that is something the press said,” he said. “Maybe both of us have very strong characters but we share the same objectives and that is the national team.

“I have been here for many years but still feel very young and eager and want to continue winning with the national team, it is all good for the moment.”

Enrique, too, gave a glowing report on the man he has decided will continue with the captain’s armband under his tenure.

“He is captain as the most capped player,” Enrique said on the eve of his first game in charge of Spain.

“He has great personality and presence. He is a great leader on and off the pitch. I hope he is with us a long time, for many years, pushing his team-mates to victory.”

With European Championship wins in 2008 and 2012 sandwiching their World Cup success, Spain set the benchmark for some years – but Enrique admits they must hone their craft to return to the summit.

“Of course we try to do different things,” he added. “Spain has been a reference in world football for 10 years. We try to evolve our model. Then we see if we are efficient enough. The aim is to evolve.”