Walking out onto the field at Stanford Stadium where the U.S. Men’s National Team has set up its World Cup preparation camp for the 2014 tournament brings back some special memories for one-time Men’s National Team midfielder Tab Ramos.
“It’s great being here with the National Team on our way to the World Cup,” said Ramos after a recent training session. “The memories I have of this place, they’re all good memories. They’re memories of playing a great game, they’re memories of a great Fourth of July, memories of a confident team that thought maybe we could do something huge that day.”That day in the summer of 1994 saw the U.S. MNT up against world soccer power Brazil in front of 84,177 fans in the knock out round of the FIFA World Cup.
“It was an amazing place to be July 4, 1994, that’s for sure – with all the banners and all the fans,” Ramos said. “There were a lot of Brazilian fans, but there were a lot of U.S. fans here too, waving their flags. It was a great day, and I’m very happy to have been part of that day.”
It’s a positive outlook for Ramos on a day that saw his team ultimately succumb to the eventual tournament champions 1-0 after he was cracked in the head by a flagrant elbow from Brazil defender Leonardo late in the first half.
“Unfortunately for me, I suffered an injury but I take it just as that,” said Ramos, who has moved past the horrific incident that sidelined him for over half a year and could have derailed his burgeoning professional career.
“I’ve never seen that game again,” Ramos continued. “I’ve actually never seen the second half of that game. I know that after the injury I was in the hospital and by the time I figured out where I was the game was over. Had we won the game I’m sure I would have seen the second half a bunch of times because it’s exciting as a team, you’re always pulling for your teammates, but since we lost, I just wanted to get it behind us.”
Twenty years later, Ramos is still a part of the team and as excited as ever to see what the players can achieve. He has returned to Stanford Stadium as an assistant on Jurgen Klinsmann’s coaching staff to share his wealth of experience – he is one of only 10 U.S. players to actually play in three World Cup tournaments – and to hopefully help guide the current iteration of the team beyond what the American’s achieved in his heyday.
“I know how much I value having been a player in general, just a professional player because that was always my goal my whole life, but in particular valuing how much it means to play for the National Team,” Ramos said. “I’d be lying to you if I told you I feel any different now. It’s amazing, I feel just as proud to be a coach and be on the staff and to be helping the team to hopefully accomplish some great things this summer.”