Sergio Ramos: "I liked the King's speech; he did a great job"
Spain's captain applauded King Felipe's call to the nation: "It was necessary to address all Spanish people. Even if he is an Atlético Madrid fan, I liked it”.
Sergio Ramos answered questions from the media at the Rico Pérez in Alicante this afternoon ahead of Spain's 2018 World Cup qualifier Albania.
You shouldn't mix politics and sport, says Ramos
How did you view the week's events? Do you think that a player seeking independence should be able to represent Spain's national team? "It hasn't been an easy week for anyone. Politics and sport have been thrown together and that's the first mistake. A couple of days ago, I felt it was best not to hold a press conference as I needed to speak to the coach and to Piqué first and I thought it would be better to stay out of the spotlight. You can't mix politics and sport. We have a great squad here with Spain, this is football we are talking about and we have a World Cup to to qualify for. These kinds of [political] decisions have nothing to do with me or anyone else involved in sport. There are other people in positions to make these decisions; we should stay out of it and focus on football. All that matters to us is football and being at the World Cup. Of course it affects us because, as a Spaniard, it's not very nice to see this image of our country being protrayed; I just hope it all can be resolved as soon as possible".
How is your relationship with Piqué? "We have a very good relationship despite being different characters and having our own ways of seeing things and thinking. We are all products of our own parents and we have the right to feel how we want - as long as there is unity and we are all heading in the same direction".
Plea to the fans not to whistle Piqué: "You can't ask the fans not to do something; you can't just deny them the freedom to express themselves… We can't order others not to say things, but we have to think about the team and in the national team as a whole. We only ask fans to make a great atmosphere and that everyone who comes along to see Spain play enjoys themselves and the atmosphere. Within that, people can do what they like".
Ramos, proud to represent Spain
What does being at the World Cup mean? "Whatever opportunity we get to pull on the national team shirt is a source of great pride; it's a completely unique feeling. Just being called up and being with the squad is too. Personally, I'll be trying to make sure I can prolong the experience for as long as I can and as a footballer, I'll continue enjoying it to the full. There are few nicer feelings than being able to play at the World Cup finals. This will be my fourth, we're on the right path and we are focusing on completing our objective which is to be at Russia 2018".
King Felipe's speech: "We're keeping ourselves informed about what's happening. For me, I say well done; apart from it being an impeccable speech it was necessary to address all Spaniards. I liked it, even if he is an Atlético de Madrid supporter".
The squad is totally focused, says Ramos
What is your message for the people of Alicante? "Even before we arrived I knew it was going to be a difficult week. I am not Spain's spokesman, I'm the captain of the national team and I have my responsibilities, one of which is to ensure that there is a good mood within the group and that we all get along. We've tried to steer clear of the political unrest; football is a sport which unites people and that's all that matters for us - that the team maintains a youthful and ambitious spirit. It is incredibly difficult to qualify for the World Cup finals and we have to make the most of this opportunity we have. As for the fans, I'm happy that the game's a sell-out, we have amazing fans who, in every part of the country have shown that they are putting their hopes on the national team and tomorrow I hope they enjoy a great, party atmosphere".
Has what has happened damaged the Spain squad? "No, quite the opposite; no one has become distracted or lost focus in spite of what has happened. Bad things help to draw conclusions, learn from them, and strengthen the group… We're still focused on the objective, which is taking three points from the game as best as we can and taking another step towards Russia, and I know that every Spanish person - from the first to the last, wants to enjoy watching us on our way".