Aaron Ramsey: The Man, The Myth, The Legend

Tom Cunliffe-Whitford, 25 February 2019

Aaron Ramsey recently signed a four-year deal with Juventus, ending an 11-year spell with Arsenal. Tom Cunliffe-Whitford ponders whether or not the Welshman will be remembered as a club legend…

In 2008, Manchester United agreed a fee of some £5m with Cardiff City for the signing of teenager Aaron Ramsey. Personal terms were yet to be agreed. They never would be.

On meeting with Arsene Wenger and Arsenal, Ramsey instead decided his future lay in North London with The Gunners. Yet less than 18 months into his Arsenal career, at just 19 years old, Ramsey suffered a horrific double fracture of his right leg – shattering both his tibula and fibula.

A lengthy recovery and two loan spells with Nottingham Forest and Cardiff would mean Ramsey wouldn’t return to Arsenal until late February 2011.

In the eight years since his return Ramsey has gone on to play over 300 games for the club and has scored more than 60 goals – an all-time record for a central midfielder at Arsenal. More than impressive stats, Ramsey has scored two FA Cup Final winning goals.

The first of which in 2014 versus Hull ended a nine season trophy drought for Arsenal. An extra time winner in a 3-2 classic of a Cup Final, legendary stuff right? Well, no, not according to many of the Arsenal faithful.

What about getting another winner vs Chelsea in another FA Cup Final 3 years later? Good I suppose, but legend? Not quite, I am told. In fact, his impending summer move to Juventus has been met by ambivalence. Many are nonplussed, deeming him ‘overrated’, ‘not worth the money demanded’ and some have even suggested he is ‘average.’

You see, modern football is a funny world. We heap ridiculous pressure on 17 year olds born as part of a ‘golden generation’ and we band the latest January loan signing ‘world class’ as soon as they hit one scuffed half-volley into the bottom corner. But give a player ‘legend’ status? Don’t dream it. Dare utter those immortal words and you stir a nostalgic fervour so strong among ‘hardcore’ fans that you can hear their stories of ‘terrace warfare’ from across the hospitality lounge at the Emirates.

Charlie George didn’t have half the career, individually, that Ramsey has had

Charlie George you see, now he’s an Arsenal legend. An Arsenal boy through and through, our Charlie. He scored the FA Cup Final winner vs Liverpool in 1971. He completes ‘Legends Tours’ of our stadium.

His shirt is emblazoned on the side of said stadium. Yet the reality is, he didn’t have half the Arsenal career, individually, that Ramsey has had.

That’s the thing about legends, they are myths. Dreamed up by young fans who witness a moment so perfect, so uniting and glorious among friends and family that a good player is immortalised forever and a day.

Charlie George isn’t a legend because of his ability. It is because he played his part in that perfect moment. He created a memory that so many will reach back for as they recall halcyon days.

Ramsey himself created such a memory. He did so twice over. He played for our club for over ten years.

Yes, perhaps the FA Cup has lost some sparkle in recent years, but I can’t help thinking that given the fullness of time we will consider the Arsenal career of Aaron Ramsey as very much legendary. The teenager who turned down Manchester United, had his leg shattered and came back to win us two Cup finals.

I hope young fans who witnessed his winning goal in 2014 in the May sunshine defend him in coming years with as much pride as my father does Charlie George or I do Ian Wright. Ramsey may not be a legend to me, but he really should be for them.

Cheers, Aaron.

Named after Michael Thomas, Tom is a season ticket holder at the Arsenal.

By |2019-02-25T22:59:36+00:00February 25th, 2019|

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