Sergio Ramos targets 200 Spain caps after matching Iker Casillas
La Furia Roja captain eyes new goal after matching Casillas' 167 appearances for his country
Sergio Ramos joined Iker Casillas as Spain's all-time most capped player yesterday morning (Singapore time) and immediately set himself a new goal of making 200 international appearances.
A double century of international appearances would make the Real Madrid centre-back the world's most-capped player.
Ramos, 33, earned his 167th cap during Spain's 4-0 win over the Faroe Islands in a Euro 2020 Group F qualifier in Gijon. Forwards Rodrigo Moreno and Paco Alcacer both bagged a brace.
Ramos made his international debut 14 years ago in a friendly against China.
"Records are there to be broken," Madrid-based daily Marca quoted him as saying.
"If I thought I had fulfilled all my dreams, I would have retired...
"I hope that this momentum, enthusiasm and ambition always accompanies me and that I reach 200 games, which is the objective.
"You have to make it difficult.
"It's a difficult challenge to have matched him (Casillas)...
"It's a prize and a joy. It's years of effort."
Meanwhile, Spanish goalkeeping legend Casillas congratulated his former Real teammate on social media.
He wrote: "Congratulations on those 167 matches, my friend.
"I hope there are many more. We have experienced great moments with the Spanish team."
Ramos inherited the Spain captaincy from Casillas after his international exit in 2016.
The pair were part of the Spain sides which lifted the 2010 World Cup, Euro 2008 and Euro 2012 titles.
Ramos said of his former club and international teammate: "I'm flattered by Iker's praise.
"I still have to overcome and I hope I can play for this country for many more years."
The Real defender can overtake Casillas next month if he features for group-topping Spain against Norway or Sweden.
He is also 10th in Spain's all-time scoring charts on 21 goals, a remarkable feat for a defender.
La Furia Roja have a 100 per cent record after six matches and lead Sweden by seven points with four qualifiers to play.
"What he's done is spectacular, and best of all, is what he's still got left to give," said Spain coach Robert Moreno, who took over the reins from Luis Enrique in June.
"You have to admire him, both as a player and a person.
"I have to say how much he's helping me with my job and that I'm grateful for his help...
"It was a great gesture and it says a lot about him (Ramos) that even on the pitch, in the heat of the battle, he is aware of everything and most of all, his teammates.
"I already had it in mind to bring him (defender Unai Nunez) on if the situation was right, but it was Sergio who came up to me to personally to ask if Unai could make his debut."
Ramos is now only nine caps short of the European record held by Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon (176) and 17 adrift of Egyptian Ahmed Hassan's world record of 184.
Joaquin Caparros, who gave Ramos his senior debut as a right-back for Sevilla in 2004, called his former charge "a born winner".
He told Radio Marca: "He's a born winner, with a great personality since he was young.
"He's always had a great talent that has allowed him to reach these figures.
"He arrived at Real Madrid at a very young age, and if it wasn't for his personality and clarity of ideas, he wouldn't have achieved so much...
"All the youth coaches at Sevilla were really on the lookout for Sergio Ramos.
"He always wanted to play and he listened very attentively to the older players. You would always see him with exemplar professionals like Pablo Alfaro, Javi Navarro or Pep Marti.
"It's no coincidence that he's got this far (in his career)."
MOST CAPPED PLAYERS
1. Ahmed Hassan (Egypt, 184 caps)
2. Mohamed Al-Deayea (Saudi Arabia, 178)
3. Claudio Suarez (Mexico, 177)
4. Gianluigi Buffon (Italy, 176)
5. Bader Al-Mutawa (Kuwait, 171)
6. Ahmed Mubarak (Oman, 171)
7. Hossam Hassan (Egypt, 170)
8. Ivan Hurtado (Ecuador, 168)
9. Sergio Ramos (Spain, 167),
= Iker Casillas (Spain, 167),
= Vitalijs Astafjevs (Latvia, 167)