Why Aaron Ramsey Should Be Arsenal’s Next Captain
Aaron Ramsey has blossomed into one of the best midfielders in the Premier League and his game is nearly as well rounded as his seamlessly gorgeous hair and beard combination. The Welshman’s journey to the rarified atmosphere that is the upper echelons of professional football has been a well-documented turbulent one. But when he poked home the goal that ended Arsenal’s 9 year trophy drought, the rise of Ramsey seemingly reached it’s symbolic climax. However, this was simply the final stanza of an early chapter in the 24-year-old’s career. Ramsey has his best years ahead of him and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him live out those years whilst donning the captain’s armband.
Ramsey has the intelligence, maturity and confidence required to make a good leader and he seems to have had it since his teenage years. Back in 2010, when Aaron was only 19, Arsenal legend Bob Wilson mused, “it’s possible that Aaron Ramsey will be a future Arsenal captain – there’s something about him that makes him different.
“We should now let Aaron develop but he is certainly a leader, he has a winning mentality.
“That is the sort of thing that Arsene doesn’t just think can be big to the team on the field, but very important in the dressing room.”
Even further into the past, in June 2008, a 17-year-old Aaron Ramsey turned down the chance to play for his boyhood club Manchester United and joined Arsenal for a £5m fee. One has to have a balanced perspective to reach the calculated conclusion that ruling head over heart really is the better thing to do sometimes, and Ramsey, being the grounded young man he is, demonstrated a level of maturity we don’t often see from teenage footballers. Of course, that isn’t to say he didn’t have a healthy dose of advice. Then Cardiff assistant coach Terry Burton, who was also an Arsenal player and coach, helped Ramsey make up his mind.
This maturity beyond his years and the other qualities Wilson talked about were spotted by the late Gary Speed, who was Wales’ manager from 2010 till his tragic death in november 2011. Speed made Ramsey Wales captain at 21-years-old and Ramsey took on the responsibility with honour. However, after Speed passed away, his successor Chris Coleman decided to give the captaincy to the more experienced Ashley Williams instead.
Raymond Verheijen, who was Speed’s assistant, was unimpressed with Coleman’s decision to strip Ramsey of the captaincy. The Dutchman didn’t hold back when he stated, “Aaron was a great captain in 2011. Extremely mature for his age.
“Gary’s decision to appoint Aaron as captain was one of the main reasons for our success. Now this part of the legacy has also been destroyed.”
Verheijen vehemency is nothing out of the ordinary for him. The sports science expert has a gained a reputation for being a little over-dramatic and calling fellow professionals out, especially when it comes to player fitness and squad management, however his comments were just as strong in support of Ramsey’s role as captain as they were against Coleman’s decision. Both Coleman and Wenger were quick to say that they thought Ramsey would be a captain again one day.
Maturity and professionalism is something brought up a lot by those who are or have been close to Ramsey. One season that is a really interesting one for measuring his attitude was the 2012/13 season, which proceeded his sensational coming of age in the 2013/14 season. Wenger deployed Ramsey in various positions all over the pitch, even using him as cover at right-back. His performances were inconsistent, he looked uncomfortable and Arsenal fans didn’t hold back when criticising him. But it was all part of a learning curve. It was a pivotal process that would see Ramsey become more complete as a player. In a twist of perfect irony, he played right-wing a lot that season and, despite it not being his preferred role, he has played excellently from the same position in Arsenal’s most recent two games. Wenger’s smirking.
It wasn’t just technical skill and tactical positioning that Ramsey improved during this period. He also developed an understanding of what it is to be selfless, to serve the team and manager, to do the dirty work and to ignore the critics. Ramsey hauled himself into the spotlight, as opposed to being in it his whole career, like the young man that many believe is destined to captain Arsenal: Jack Wilshere. Of course, Wilshere has had to overcome adversity of his own in the shape of constant ankle injuries, but even he recognises Ramsey’s leadership qualities. Not too long ago Wilshere said, “[Aaron’s] main attribute is his energy, his leadership, he wants to drive the team forward and he can score goals.”
Now Ramsey is key cog in Arsenal’s well-oiled ‘Wengerball’ machine that is steamrolling through 2015 and looking like a major force again. The current club captain Mikel Arteta is known to be a very good leader, especially behind the scenes. Arteta has hardly featured this season, but Per Mertesacker makes up for the Spaniard’s absence on the pitch. However, pretty soon there has to be long-term change and the maturity, ability and incredible mental strength of Aaron Ramsey makes him stand out as a more than capable candidate.