After emerging through the club’s youth system alongside Jesus Navas and Antonio Puerta, Sergio Ramos would make his Sevilla debut on February 1, 2004, making a total of seven appearances before heading to Switzerland and starting in four of five matches as Spain won the U-19 Euros. Ramos would enjoy a breakthrough 2004/05 season and score 3 goals in 41 appearances, locking down a starting spot in defense, slotting into right back or center back as Sevilla finished sixth, qualifying for the UEFA Cup. He made his Spain debut on March 26 at 18 years and 361 days of age, becoming the youngest player to appear for Spain in 55 years.
Ramos would play the full 90 in their La Liga opener on August 28, a 1-0 win against Racing Santander, before joining Real Madrid for €27 million in the final days of the window and departing the Andalusian club after nine years. The rest, as they say, is history — Ramos cemented a legacy as one of the greatest defenders of the 21st century, winning two Euros and a World Cup with Spain as well as five league titles and four Champions League titles with Real, in addition to two Ligue 1 titles with Paris Saint-Germain.
Exactly 18 years and four days after departing his boyhood club and heading to the Bernabeu, Ramos returned to the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan on a free transfer, signing a contract until the end of the season. He’ll be looking to provide leadership and quality for a Sevilla side that began the season in dismal fashion, losing to Alaves, Valencia and Girona in the league and falling to Manchester City on penalties in the UEFA SuperCup. Ramos made his second debut on Sunday, partnering Loïc Badé in central defense as Sevilla — who had conceded eight in their last three — picked up their first win of the season and first clean sheet, edging Las Palmas 1-0.
The goalkeeper was Andres Palop, who left Valencia in the summer after over a decade at the club, most of which saw him ride the bench or spend time out on loan. It seemed he was approaching the end of his career when he joined just weeks before turning 32, but instead, he would go on to win UEFA Cups and two Copa del Reys. In 2007, he not only saved three out of four penalty kicks to secure a second straight European trophy against Espanyol, but he would also score an injury-time equalizer against Shakhtar in the Round of 16, forcing extra time and enabling Sevilla to progress to the next round. He would depart the club in 2013, spending a year as a backup at Bayer Leverkusen, before enjoying brief spells as a manager at Alcoyano and Ibiza.
Sevilla played with a back five on that summer day against Santander, and one of the defenders was Aitor Ocio. Sevilla had signed him two years prior after impressing with Athletic Bilbao and he would stay in Andalusia for two more years after Ramos’ departure. In that time he was the club’s vice-captain behind Javi Navarro. After his spell at Sevilla ended, he returned to Athletic in 2007, where he retired in 2012.
Next on the list is David Castedo, a player who spent most of his professional career at Sevilla from 2000 to 2007. The 2005-06 campaign was one of his best for the club, making 33 appearances and playing every game of their successful UEFA Cup campaign. The emergence of Antonio Puerta and the signing of Ivica Dragutinovic significantly reduced his game time, and after one solitary season at Levante, Castedo retired in 2008.
Dani Alves was just as hot a prospect as Ramos back in 2005, but his big move would have to wait until 2008. Several failed transfers came in the previous years, as well as rumours linking the player with every existing super club. In 2006 it was Liverpool, in 2007 Chelsea and then finally in 2008, Barcelona got their man. Alves became one of the best fullbacks of all time in Catalunya and creating an iconic partnership with Messi.
He won three Champions League titles with the Blaugrana amongst a host of other titles, at a time when the Spanish league was arguably the best in Europe. In 2016 after Atletico Madrid dumped them out of the Champions League quarter finals Dani Alves recorded a video of himself impersonating his wife consoling him for the defeat, which can only be described as weird.
Barcelona subsequently dropped him for the next game and he was out at the end of the season. After Barca he spent a year at Juventus, losing the Champions League final and two more as part of PSG’s project of signing as many superstars as possible. In 2019 he moved back to his native Brazil with Sao Paulo, before making a surprise one-year return to Barcelona in 2021. In 2022 he moved to Mexico with UNAM and in January of this year, the club released him after he was arrested for sexually assaulting a woman in a Barcelona nightclub. He is currently awaiting trial.
The last defender who played on that day is still at Sevilla today and will be looking forward to partnering up with his old teammate Jesus Navas. Undoubtedly a club icon, Navas came through the youth ranks of Sevilla and saw teammate after teammate of his leave for European giants, yet he stayed loyal to the Andalusian club. After ten years in Seville, he decided to finally move away in 2013 and chose Manchester City.
Like many players with such deep ties to a club, his performances never reached the same heights after his move away and his four-year stay in Manchester could be described as mediocre. In 2017 he returned to Sevilla with many expecting his swansong years to be close. However, Navas is still playing for the club today, having become their all-time appearance holder. His contribution is more than a symbolic one, with Navas providing the cross that Gianluca Mancini put into his own net to tie this year’s Europa League final.
The three midfielders that day were Jose Luis Marti, Renato and Antonio Lopez. Marti, who only got his first taste of first-team football when he was already 25 years old, spent five years with Sevilla and moved to Mallorca in 2018. Not content with a short career as a first-team player, he stuck around with the team until he was 40 when he retired and moved into management. His first job came at Tenerife where he stayed for three years and since then he has had short and unsuccessful spells managing Deportivo La Coruna, Girona, Leganes and Sporting Gijon. He is currently unemployed.
Renato, on the other hand, made his debut when he was only 17 and signed for the Andalusians from Santos in 2004. His time in Seville proved very fruitful, spending seven years with the club, before returning to Santos after a brief detour with Botafogo. In his last season in 2018, he held the dual role of both player and director of football at Santos. The last of the three-man midfield, Antonio Lopez, played for eleven clubs during his career, mostly minnows with the exception of Sevilla. He spent three years there, making only 32 appearances before retiring in 2014 after bouncing around various smaller clubs like Albacete and Fuenlabrada.
The only goal of the game that ended in a Sevilla win that day was scored by Kepa. And no, I’m not talking about that Kepa. Kepa Blanco Gonzalez had come through Sevilla’s academy and the 2005 season was to be his first full season as a first-team player. Only 9 goals from 37 games prompted Sevilla to loan him out to West Ham in 2007. A debut goal against Liverpool coming with his first touch of the ball promised great things, but that would remain the only goal he ever scored in England. West Ham unsurprisingly did not trigger the option to make the move permanent and Kepa subsequently moved to Getafe and from there to Recreativo de Huelva and Guadalajara retiring at only 30 years old.
Kepa’s strike partner that day, Frederic Kanoute, also played for West Ham, but that was before his move to Sevilla. Making his debut in professional football for Lyon, Kanoute moved to West Ham where he partnered up with Paolo Di Canio under Harry Redknapp. After West Ham were relegated at the end of the 2003 season, he moved to Tottenham, where he found game time hard to come by and was subsequently sold to Sevilla in 2005.
Spurs would come to rue this decision as Kanoute scored in both legs of their tie against Sevilla in the 2007 UEFA Cup. His tally of 89 goals in 209 games for Sevilla showed that despite his laid-back attitude there was real talent in his boots. With injuries plaguing his last campaign for Sevilla, he decided to spend one year with Beijing Guoan in 2012 earning a nice sum for his retirement.
In order to conclude this throwback in a fashionable manner, three more names need to be addressed: namely manager Juande Ramos and substitutes Enzo Maresca and Javier Saviola. Ramos attained arguably his greatest success as a manager with Sevilla before moving to Tottenham in 2007. Despite signing Luka Modric and insisting on a strict diet, which knocked down half of the combined 100 kg deemed to be the team’s overweight mass, his tenure was disastrous. Real Madrid inexplicably decided to take a chance on Ramos, but let him go after a mediocre season.
From there, short spells with CSKA Moscow (which was 47 days in total), Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk and Malaga followed, and he has been unemployed since 2016. Saviola was a loan signing at the time, being employed by Barcelona from 2000 to 2007 when he moved to bitter rivals Real Madrid. His career never reached the heights people were expecting of him and after leaving Real, he embarked on a journeyman career that took him to Benfica, Malaga, Olympiacos, Hellas Verona, and back to his boyhood club River Plate. He is currently Barcelona’s under-19 assistant manager.
Enzo Maresca also moved into management after having an equally colourful career. From 2017 he worked as an assistant at Ascoli, Sevilla and West Ham and after completing courses at Manchester City he was Pep’s assistant last season. Today, he is the head coach of Leicester and will be looking to take the Foxes back to the Premier League, having begun the season with 15 points from six.
By: Eduard Holdis / @He_Ftbl
Featured Image: @GabFoligno / NurPhoto