Sergio Ramos, love him or hate him, the man is an absolute Real Madrid legend – the man for the big moments, good or bad, and the man who wears his heart on his sleeve with the phrase "never say die" emblazoned in his character.
Ramos came to the fore in some stunning fashion in the dying moments of normal time of the Champions League final in Lisbon against their crosstown rivals Atletico Madrid, before Gareth Bale, the world's most expensive man, paid back every single penny, with a header that will go down in Real history as the one that turned that obsession of the "La Decima" into wonderful reality.
Trailing 1-0 thanks to a clanger from Iker Casillas and a goal from Diego Godin, the man who won Atletico the La Liga title a week back, Real looked down and out, with their Madrid rivals tasting their first ever Champions League title and imagining lifting that famous cup, only for Ramos to change the script and bring that "Decima" into the picture again with a nod of his head.
The result of that timely header was the match heading into extra time, which Real utterly bossed with Bale scoring in the 120th minute to make it 2-1. Two more goals poured in at the end, as Atletico capitulated, with Marcelo, courtesy a low strike, and Cristiano Ronaldo, otherwise largely ineffective, stroking home a penalty to complete a thoroughly deserving, even if a little flattering, 4-1 win in the first ever Champions League final competed between two teams from the same city.
It was a tough, turgid encounter, pretty much along the lines of expectations in the first half, with chances for either side few and far between.
The eyebrow-raising incident, apart from the Godin goal, was when Diego Costa was named in the starting lineup only to be forced off the field with injury in just the ninth minute – making one wonder why on earth the Brazilian-born Spanish international even started in the first place.
Real Madrid could not quite make full use of that small upheaval in the Atletico lineup, though – not that this Diego Simeone-led side ever gets flustered – with the team in white just unable to penetrate through – the tale of the game for almost the entire 90 minutes as Atletico, dogged, determined and just plain plucky keeping their rivals at bay.
Bale, however, could have given Real that much-needed goal on 32 minutes, but the Welshman, after stealing the ball near the halfway line from Tiago, and marauding into the box, fired his shot wide – that pattern would stay for the much of the match for the Welshman.
Four minutes after that massive miss from Bale, Atletico scored the goal that would define the final. An innocuous corner was initially cleared by Real only to see the ball hooked back in with goalkeeper Iker Casillas, a little bored with his lack of action perhaps, deciding to take a walk and try and punch the ball when the ball was a few yards, and then some, away from him. The result of that unimaginable decision from Casillas was a Godin header, with the ball looping past the goal line much to the Real player's disbelief and Casillas' embarrassment.
The match after that goal was pretty simple really – Atletico seemingly saying: "You try and score, we will stay where we are, with that Great Wall of China-like defence, and good on ya if you find a way through" (in Spanish of course).
Find a way through Real did not look like being able to do, as Ronaldo and Bale missed a few really presentable chances in the second half.
Bale, still probably wondering about what might have been after that first half miss, squandered a couple of nice chances, with that usually impeccable left foot of his just letting him down time and again.
Ronaldo stung Thibaut Courtois' hands with a freekick from distance, while failing to connect with a free header off a peach of a cross by the merest of margins.
Try as they might the ball just would not fall for Real, as Atletico, despite not exactly looking dangerous on the counter-attack, held firm. Adrian Lopez, Costa's replacement had a really good game for Atletico, holding the ball up wide nicely while also creating a fee flutters to the Real defence.
But that real sense of a goalscoring threat was never there as the players, sensing history, just kept moving deeper and deeper as the time wound down. Real seemed to be galvanised by Atletico's deep-sitting tactics and it was always a matter of time before the equaliser came – the only question was if that time would come before or after the final whistle.
The answer came in the third minute of stoppage time, with the man for the crisis and/or inspiration -- Ramos -- leaping like a gazelle and powering a header past Courtois to send the final into extra time.
It was all Real in the additional thirty minutes, as Atletico, morale and spirit sapped by that late, late goal, struggled to cope with the wave after wave of attacks. They held on in the first 15 minutes of extra time, but five minutes into the second half of extra time pandemonium reigned as Bale booked his place in history amongst the innumerable Real legends.
The goal was all about Angel Di Maria, though, with the Argentine somehow finding energy and drive to get past three Atletico defenders down the left with his nice strike from an angle brilliantly saved by Courtois. However, the ball rebounded off Courtois' feet to Bale at the far post with the Welshman nodding into an empty net to send the Real fans and players into delirium.
The ecstasy only increased as Marcelo struck a low drive past Courtois on 118 minutes, before the salt was rubbed into Atletico's wounds as Godin brought down Ronaldo inside the box, with the Portuguese, desperate to score in his home country, easing home the penalty.
The Atletico players and Diego Simeone, unfortunately lost the plot towards the end, as tempers flared, and the cruelness of this beautiful game hit them hard.
For Real, though, it was as sweet as it gets, with Carlo Ancelotti, Ronaldo and co. finally banishing Real's ghosts of Champions League past and giving their fans a memory to finally look back on fondly after that epic swing of Zinedine Zidane's boot.