Ramsey brimming with confidence

AP

Ramsey received the Barclays Player of the Month award recently — a prize which was well deserved for his contribution to the four Arsenal victories in September.

Arsenal’s signing of Mesut Ozil was the most high-profile capture by an English club during the transfer window but on the pitch he has been overshadowed by team-mate Aaron Ramsey.

While the spotlight has been pointed firmly at Arsenal’s marquee summer arrival from Germany, Ramsey has produced a string of performances worthy of a similar amount of headlines this season — and the plaudits are now flowing.

The 22-year-old midfielder has netted nine goals in all competitions this season, but it is not just his goals that have caught the eye but also his energy, movement and new-found confidence.

Ramsey received the Barclays Player of the Month award recently — a prize which was well deserved for his contribution to the four Arsenal victories in September which helped Arsenal climb to the top of the English Premier League heading into the international break.

Ramsey has raised his game immensely, both physically and mentally, since last season and three years since suffering a broken leg in a challenge with Stoke’s Ryan Shawcross which could have ended his career.

Priory to his injury, there were signs that Ramsey had a promising career ahead of him and he is now fulfilling that potential, proving his injury nightmare is fully behind him.

“It took him a long time to completely get over that, especially in duels, in fights (for the ball),” said Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger last month.

“He was resistant to go into fights for a long, long time but now he’s over it. He had a difficult period last season where people became a little bit impatient with him. He lost his confidence and sometimes, if you give the players a little rest, it can rebuild their confidence.

“They can think about their game and come back stronger and that’s what happened to him. As for the rest, he scores goals now. I always thought he would score goals if he improved his technical quality.

“When you watched the games, you saw him always in good positions in the box. When he got the chances he missed sometimes, but he has improved tremendously on that.

“He has a great engine, a great spirit, and has an obsession: he always wants to be better.”

Ramsey was a budding rugby talent in his early school years. He was approached by rugby league side St. Helens after playing a youth match against them but he had already turned his eyes towards football, having signed for Cardiff City.

At the age of 16 he had already made his way into Cardiff’s first team and the Wales under-17 side. By the age of 18, ‘Ramsey, who?’ had turned into ‘Wenger and Ferguson battle for Welsh hot prospect.’

Wooed by the two giants of English football, Ramsey showed he is capable of making difficult decisions, choosing Arsenal over his boyhood favourites Manchester United.

It proved to be a wise choice as he reached top form a year later, only to be abruptly brought down to the ground by his career-threatening injury.

Slowly and surely, over the span of three years, Ramsey has demonstrated he possesses the mental toughness to successfully put aside all doubts and work back to his previous high form.

The feat of overcoming such a horrific injury was duly recognised by the now-deceased former manager of Wales, Gary Speed, who gave Ramsey the captain’s armband in 2011, making him the youngest Welsh captain in history at the age of 20 years and 90 days.

Fast forward two years later and we see a man emerging from a dark tunnel and with no intention of looking back. Ramsey has gone through an unbelievable transformation and while it would be convenient to say he has done it all by himself, it would not reflect reality.

“I never feared that I wouldn’t return,” said Ramsey. “I just needed to believe again and get that confidence. I had a lot of support from friends and family, and I had the trust the manager put in me.

“All these things added up over a period of time. You have to keep believing and working hard, and it just clicks all of a sudden and you are full of confidence.

“I’m delighted with myself and the team. After the disappointing start against Villa, we have turned things around.”

There are a lot of positive things going on at Arsenal this season, and Ramsey is one of the most notable ones.

FACTFILE THE PLAYER: Aaron Ramsey POSITION: Midfielder CURRENT CLUB: Arsenal DOB: 26/12/1990 INTERNATIONAL CAPS: 29 INTERNATIONAL GOALS: 7

MOMENT TO REMEMBER: Captaining Wales against England in the European Championship qualifiers in March 2011 after returning from injury.

MOMENT TO FORGET: Part of the Great Britain squad which flopped at the London 2012 Olympics.