Aaron Ramsey, Nice
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Aaron Ramsey: 5 things on Nice's Welsh midfield sensation

Aaron Ramsey: 5 things on Nice's Welsh midfield sensation

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Publish on 08/11 at 09:01 - S. TELFORD

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Aaron Ramsey has wasted little time in endearing himself to the OGC Nice faithful, scoring on his debut against Toulouse FC last weekend, but what else is there to know about the former Arsenal man?

Aaron Ramsey has wasted little time in endearing himself to the OGC Nice faithful, scoring on his debut against Toulouse FC last weekend, but what else is there to know about the former Arsenal man?

 

Ramsey racked up 369 appearances in 11 years with Arsenal between 2008 and 2019, winning three FA Cups along the way - and scoring the winning goal in two of those.

 

He is now in France via spells with Juventus and Rangers, and ready to hit the ground running if last Sunday is anything to go by. Ligue1.com brings you five things to know about the wonderful Welshman...

 

 

1) A prodigious athlete

 

Ramsey was born in Caerphilly, a town seven miles north of Welsh capital Cardiff, on Boxing Day 1990, and he joined Cardiff City's youth academy at the age of eight. Cardiff did well to bolt him down, with Rugby League giants St Helens having also courted him soon before he signed with the Bluebirds.

 

Ramsey was also a pentathlete until a year before he made his full Cardiff debut, and was crowned the Welsh Schools' Athletic Association champion in 2005 before ranking fourth in the Great Britain's under-17 age group in 2006.

 

Finally committing to football full-time, he made his Cardiff debut at the tender age of 16 years, four months and three days in a 1-0 defeat to Hull City in April 2007. His six-minute cameo saw him break John Toshack's 42-year record as Cardiff's youngest ever player.

 

2) Top Gunner

 

Ramsey was a Manchester United fan in his youth but Sir Alex Ferguson, despite courting the young Welshman, lost out to his great rival Arsène Wenger. The Gunners flew Ramsey to Switzerland for talks with Wenger at UEFA Euro 2008 and he signed soon after.

 

A broken leg sustained in February 2010 threatened to derail Ramsey's Arsenal career, and he was sent out on loan to Nottingham Forest and then first club Cardiff in a bid to recover his fitness. The perennial athlete did, and the rest is history.

 

Ramsey scored the winning goal in extra-time to help Arsenal end their nine-year wait for a trophy with victory over Hull in the FA Cup final in 2014, and repeated the trick four years later to give the Gunners a 2-1 win over Chelsea in the 2017 showpiece.

 

When he left Arsenal for Juventus in 2019, he did so with 369 games, 64 goals, 65 assists and five trophies to his name - the North London club having also won two FA Community Shields in his time there.

 

 

3) A humble superstar

 

When Ramsay joined Juventus, his £400,000 a week wages made him the highest-paid British player ever based on basic salary alone. But he has always eschewed the limelight, his contract offer simply a result of his talent and Juve's budget.

 

This is a player who refused to celebrate either of his two goals when Arsenal beat Cardiff 3-0 to move seven points clear at the top of the Premier League in November 2013 and was then sung off the pitch by both sets of fans.

 

Ramsey is also an avid supporter of the Word Wildlife Fund, telling the Guardian in July 2015 that: "I've always been passionate about animals, and with the way things are going at the moment, with all of these helpless animals being killed for their ivory and for what people think are for medicinal reasons, it's just beyond me."

 

4) Wales legend

 

If Ramsey's club career has been impressive, his international one is the stuff of dreams. Part of a golden generation of Welsh youngsters which also included Gareth Bale and Joe Allen, he was handed his full debut in a 1-0 friendly win over Denmark a month before his 18th birthday.

 

Eight years after meeting Wenger at a European Championships, Ramsey was helping Wales into the semi-finals of Euro 2016, matching Belgium's Eden Hazard by laying on a tournament-high four goals, and was later voted into the official Team of the Tournament.

 

More recently, and by now having led his country out as captain, Ramsey scored three goals as Wales sealed qualification for Qatar 2022, which will be his nation's first World Cup since 1958. "It's unbelievable! Little old Wales are going to the World Cup!" he exclaimed after the play-off win over Ukraine in June.

 

Aaron Ramsey, Wales

 

5) Jack of all trades, master of some?

 

Ramsey's favourite position is in central midfield, where he is able to flourish on both sides of the ball. In the 2013/14 campaign he contributed 16 goals and 10 assists for Arsenal, but also won a team-high 164 tackles and was - alongside Manchester City's Yaya Touré - the only player to complete 1,000 passes league-wide. This, despite missing three months of the season with injury.

 

"I was a midfielder, and I would have loved to have had what he has," Wenger enthused at the time. "He can defend, he can attack, he can score goals. What more do you want?"

 

Also able to play wider or deeper, Ramsey was used as a mezzala at Juventus - a wide central midfielder with license to get forward in a 4-3-3 - and it looks like this is where Nice will get the best out of him if his goalscoring debut against Toulouse is anything to go by.

 

Wenger also once described Ramsey as an "offence-minded Roy Keane." If only, Mr. Ferguson...