NAIROBI, Kenya, May 31- Arsenal’s Welsh midfield lynchpin, Aaron Ramsey came, saw and fell in love with Kenya and immediately underpinned his desire to bag silverware with the Gunners next season.
However, Ramsey is calling on his team mates to establish a consistent run akin to their end season flourish if they have a chance to break their trophy duck that stretches from the FA Cup win in 2005.
After helping Arsene Wenger’s side finish fourth and qualify for the UEFA Champions League knock-out phase, Ramsey and members of his family unwound in the breathtaking facilities of Hemingways Hotels in Watamu, Masai Mara and finally Nairobi where he took time off to make the day for six players from the Ligi Ndogo Academy.
Speaking to select local journalists after enjoying a kick-about with the youngsters in the lush lawns of his Nairobi hotel ahead of his departure to enjoy the rest of the summer, Ramsey reflected on a season where he featured in 36 English Premier League games, scoring once, recording two assists and taking 46 shots.
He played 44 times in all competitions this season and although some said his form was patchy, Ramsey, who signed a long-term deal with the Gunners in July 2009, feels he is nearing the form that made him the most desired teenager in British football.
The Welsh midfielder who honed his skills at Cardiff City before blossoming at the Gunners also offered his take on his career, that horrendous tackle by Stoke City’s Ryan Shawcross that threatened to end it prematurely, his road to recovery, life under Wenger, thoughts on the retired Manchester United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, the imminent arrival of Jose Mourinho at Chelsea as well as his desire to see Arsenal end an eight season trophy drought.
Life under Wenger at Arsenal
“There is no hairdryer with him! He certainly knows how to manage hi players he is very easy to talk to, very approachable. He makes you to be very keen to improve as a player and enjoy at a young age.”
On Arsenal’s fourth finish and silverware hopes for next season
“It was a great finish to the season. We got through and got the fourth place we were after in the end. Hopefully, we can take this form we showed in the last season into next season and get into a good start and pull ourselves in.
“We need to do that on a more consistent basis and hopefully we can take it into the beginning of next season and help ourselves to a good start.”
Why he joined Arsenal for 5 million pounds (Ksh645m at today’s rate) with Manchester United and Newcastle interested in the youngster from Cardiff City in the 07-08 season.
“I thought that Arsenal have a tradition of bringing through young players and turning them into great players. Wenger has done that so many times over the years and given younger players more opportunities to play in the first team and that was one big factor.
“I felt more wanted by Arsenal and felt that was the right choice for me.”
That February 2010 Ryan Shawcross tackle that almost ended his career after suffering a double leg break
“When it happened, all sorts of things were going through my mind. I had doctors, medical teams and specialists who have seen many of these injuries and they reassured me that I would come back and everything would heal back to normal if not even stronger.
“I was always confident I would come back and get to my best especially in the last half of the season I felt I was getting back to where I used to be. It still takes a lot time to overcome that sort of injury that I suffered and mentally it quite tough.
“I think I have overcome that one, I’m much stronger and that is showing in performances especially in the second half of the season.”
His return to Cardiff City on loan upon recovering from the injury
“That is where I was brought up and that is where I started my professional career. It was great to go back and see how far the club have come forward and now they are in the Premiership, full credit to them.
“It was a great experience for me to go back there, my friends, my family that is where everyone I knew since I was little is, so it was great to go there.
“It takes a while to overcome to overcome the mental side and to go into tackles like I used to and things like that but I think this season, I’m showing that I’m coming back and I have put some great performances in but I still have a bit to go yet and more to learn but I’m more confident of getting where I want to be.”
Thoughts on Welsh Tottenham Hotspurs team mate Gareth Bale
“He is a good player, who scored many good goals for Tottenham this season and many of his goals have kept us on our toes. He has been unbelievable this season and he deserves the credit he has been having recently.”
Does Bale deserve Champions League football next season?
“That is up to him. He is at Tottenham and many clubs are going to be interested in him after the year he has had so it’s up to him on what he wants as a footballer.
Enchantment with Kenya during his holiday
“It’s been really good! I have experienced a lot; I went to the Masai Mara for three days and then down to Mombasa. I brought some my family over with me and it’s been a really good experience and I have enjoyed myself.
“I have learned two Swahili words, jambo (hallo) and asante (thank you). I have always been interested in wildlife and it’s something I always wanted to do, go on Safari and we planned this trip and it’s been a really good experience.”
On the return of Chelsea manager-elect Jose Mourinho to Stamford Bridge
“He’s a great manager who has won many things. It will be good for the Premiership to have him back, his personality and things like that. It brings a bit more excitement and it can only be a good thing.”
On the retired long-time Manchester United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson
“He is going to be missed by them and his figure will definitely be missed in the game. Not seeing him in the Manchester United dugout is going to be quite weird because he has been there for many years but he has done more than enough for that club and won many things.”
Thoughts on the late Wales manager, Gary Speed who gave him the captaincy of the national side
“Gary Speed was a great manager. He got the best out of us, he gave me a good opportunity and he felt that I was ready to be captain. He got the ball rolling for Welsh football again; we were playing some very good stuff.
“Chris Coleman came in and changed a few things around but I feel that we are getting back to where we were and we are producing some good performances again.