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Aaron Ramsey: The Rise of The Welsh Dragon

Friday 3rd May 2013
Welshman Aaron Ramsey's footballing career has been somewhat of a bittersweet journey, Sean Gibson takes a look at the rising Arsenal star.

With a swift promotion to the Cardiff City first team in 2007, at only sixteen years old Ramsey became the youngest ever player to don the Bluebirds shirt. Following this feat, a string of impressive performances both in the league and in the FA Cup incited intense interest from two Premier League giants. Both Manchester United and Arsenal held negotiations to sign the player, but after face-to-face discussions with Arsene Wenger himself, Aaron Ramsey opted to move to North London, where he would work under the stewardship of Cesc Fabregas and develop alongside fellow youngster Jack Wilshere in a quest to first team fortunes.

But this journey has perhaps been more of an onerous expedition for the young Welshman. Hailed by Arsenal assistant manager Steve Bould as "big character" who works "extremely hard for the team", Aaron Ramsey clearly turns heads as being one of the most persevering and indefatigable players in current top flight football. However, this passage to success could so easily have been obstructed had he not held the temperament and character as described by Arsene's number two. Horrific injury in February 2010 saw Ramsey pick up a double fracture in his lower right leg. A huge upset for Arsenal, a monumental disruption in what was rapidly becoming the perfect fairytale narrative for Aaron Ramsey.

With a steady rehabilitation program easing Ramsey back to full fitness, he eventually earned himself a loan move first to Nottingham Forest followed by a return to his boyhood club, Cardiff City. He then returned to the Gunners first team in 2011 and was available for much of the 2011-12 season, but it is only now in 2013 that the Arsenal faithful have truly been able to see the player who acquired Arsene Wenger's praise as a "very intelligent and mature player" upon his signing in 2008.

Occupying a position within a deeper midfield berth alongside Mikel Arteta, Ramsey has been able to finally make the central position his own. Having, on occasion,  been deployed as left midfielder, he struggled somewhat to involve himself in the ebb and flow of the game. Wenger's decision to play the Welshman in this role often coincided with the occurrence of tricky away games, such as Everton at Goodison Park. Offering defensive cover and energy in this area, the Arsenal manager can be forgiven for having preference for the efficiency that is perhaps not offered by the deft and nimble Gervinho or forgotten man Andrey Arshavin.

And with the restoration of Ramsey in his favoured position, the one they call 'Rambo' is living up to his nickname, having already displayed his survival skills against all odds and now proving to be a deadly force in the Arsenal midfield. Oddly, his footballing story also draws parallels to a narrative very familiar in his homeland.  The story of  'Y Ddraig Goch' (The Red Dragon) is an old legend that explains the Welsh flag. The story goes that a British red dragon had begun fighting with an invading white dragon. As the two fought, the cries of a wounded dragon made crops barren, slaughtered animals and caused pregnant women to miscarry. A similar curse seemed beset on British dragon Ramsey. Football fans around the world began to notice that after any Ramsey goal was scored, a famous celebrity would die,  Bin Laden, Gaddafi, Jobs, Houston. This quirk of bad luck was getting more attention than the player himself and distracted the focus away from his ability to breathe fire into the heart of the Arsenal team, much like the strength and powers of the dragon. In the famous legendary story however, the red dragon kills the white dragon. The red dragon represents the people of Britain, much like the Olympian Aaron Ramsey and he was entrusted with great respect from the land. Appointed captain of his country in March 2011, Ramsey has clearly gained similar esteem, even if the honour has since moved to Ashley Williams.

He may have faced countless challenges in his career, but his meteoric rise in recent weeks has been as good as illustration as any of Aaron Ramsey's incredible ability to ignore criticism and bad luck to overcome adversity. With a new five year contract extension signed in December, along with a core of young Brits including Kieran Gibbs, Jack Wilshere, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Carl Jenkinson, Arsenal's number 16 now has the chance to become a legend of his own.
Sean Gibson
Arsenal fan. All time favourite players include Dennis Bergkamp, Thierry Henry, Eduardo Da Silva, Ronaldinho and Zinedine Zidane. Will never forget the 25th April 2004. Follow Sean on Twitter: @seangooner

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