Gamers Without Borders: Departing Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos talks Fortnite, how Ronaldinho made him “suffer” in their El Clásico days, and Spain’s “need” to beat Slovakia at the Euros

-- Spain and Real Madrid icon played in esports festival Gamers Without Borders

-- Gave his first interview since announcing his departure from the Bernabéu

-- Reflected on La Liga battles with Ronaldinho – who he played at FIFA yesterday

-- Brazilian saw off four-time Champions League winner in best-of-three series

June 21: Outgoing Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos has lavished praise on his former FC Barcelona rival Ronaldinho – describing the Samba superstar as a “magical” player who made him “suffer” when they went head-to-head on the pitch.

The four-time Champions League winner was being interviewed as part of $10million charity esports festival Gamers Without Borders following his best-of-three EA SPORTS™ FIFA 21 series defeat to the Brazilian – and speaking in his first outing since announcing his departure from Real Madrid.

Ramos and Ronaldinho went toe-to-toe in some of the most iconic El Clásico matches ever played in trophy-laden spells with Spain’s ‘big two’, racking-up La Liga and Champions League titles and earning a host of individual awards, before meeting again in European competition when ‘Ronnie’ moved on to AC Milan.

Asked if going-up against the Brazilian as part of Gamers Without Borders – the world’s biggest charity esports event – brought back any memories of his battles on the pitch with the 2002 World Cup winner, Ramos, speaking through a translator, said: “Well, good and bad memories really!

“Because of Ronaldinho’s magical nature as a footballer, he made me suffer a lot in his time on the pitch. We had both good and bad results during El Clásico, but the bad results were due to him being on the top of his game. Those were tough moments. Ronaldinho and myself have had our duals on the pitch, both with Barcelona and Milan, and it’s always a beautiful moment to share these types of experience with former colleagues and rivals.”

On his Gamers Without Borders experience, Ramos added: “It felt great. It’s true that it’s been a long time since I’ve played FIFA regularly – I’ve got a lot of kids which doesn’t allow me to play that much! I used to play a lot more, however two of my kids now seem to be my teachers when it comes to video games!

“In the last couple of years I’ve played more Fortnite, because of my kids – my kid is a prodigy on Fortnite! My older son is seven now. Up until a certain point he never really had too much interest in video games and I could easily win against him. But this has evolved and it’s become much tougher over the years – it’s almost incredible to see that this little guy can beat you up so harshly during a video game session!

“I really dominated the games [against Ronaldinho] today but the result didn’t really reflect that. It was a beautiful moment anyway.”

Gamers Without Borders is a nine-week online festival of gaming, where $10million+ will be donated to humanitarian organisations leading vaccine distribution efforts in the world’s most vulnerable nations. It is open to gamers of all abilities, with its mammoth prize-fund going directly to UNICEF, Gavi, Direct Relief, the International Medical Corps and the King Salman Humanitarian Aid & Relief Centre.

Ramos continued: “I chose to be part of Gamers Without Borders from a sense of solidarity, really. I’ve been an ambassador for UNICEF for a number of years now and I’m always on the lookout for possibilities to contribute to good causes. COVID-19 is such a massive issue today so I took this opportunity to give my support.”

Ramos missed out on selection for the Spain squad for this summer’s European Championship, currently being played-out across the continent. Luis Enrique’s side have drawn both their opening games, and require a win against Slovakia on Wednesday to guarantee qualification into the knock-out stages of the competition.

Ramos said: “I think that the Spanish national team is actually a great side. There’s a real mix of young players who are not really promising anymore but now very much real, and veterans – older payers who provide the necessary experience. There’s a fusion of talent there

“In terms of the games so far, the result against Poland has now created a certain obligation to win the next one. We’re very much in need of a win in the last game.”

Asked which nations he expects to go the distance, he said: “The Euros has barely started really so it’s hard for me to put my money on any particular team – it’s a hard call to make. However, I am seeing really powerful teams in France, Germany, Belgium and Italy.”

Gamers Without Borders’ opening elite-series tournament – featuring the best FIFA players on the planet – climaxes today.

The festival will also host another sporting superstar battle on EA SPORTS™ FIFA 21, with Britain’s reigning world heavyweight champion boxer Anthony Joshua taking on Manchester United and England midfielder Jesse Lingard from 12pm CEST (11am UK) this afternoon.