Aaron Ramsdale interview: Arsenal’s newest cult hero talks Mikel Arteta, All or Nothing and social media abuse

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·5-min read
Aaron Ramsdale interview: Arsenal’s newest cult hero talks Mikel Arteta, All or Nothing and social media abuse
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In the space of a year, Aaron Ramsdale has become a cult hero at Arsenal. The goalkeeper has established himself as the club’s No1 and he is a fan favourite at Emirates Stadium.

It is all very different to the reaction Ramsdale first got when he joined Arsenal from Sheffield United last summer. Eyebrows were raised at the initial £24million transfer fee and the 24-year-old was met with a wave of abuse on social media.

“At the very start it was difficult. I had a lot of negativity around the signing, with idiots online saying don’t sign,” says Ramsdale. “Not necessarily death threats but threats saying: ‘We know where you live’ and things like that. Trying to scare me.

“Quite quickly I turned all that stuff off. Social media for me is a place to communicate with my friends and with the fans as well, but with limits on who can actually reach me.”

If Ramsdale were to turn on social media now he would see the mood has changed, but he has no desire to do so.

Aaron Ramsdale has quickly turned the tide of opinion since joining Arsenal last summer (Arsenal FC via Getty Images)
Aaron Ramsdale has quickly turned the tide of opinion since joining Arsenal last summer (Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

“You are just setting yourself up for a downfall,” he says. “As much as I love the fans, they don’t really have an opinion on what we do on the pitch.

“The people I need to impress, like I said, are the manager, the coaching staff and ultimately my team-mates. If I have their trust, then I’ll have the fans' trust as well.”

Ramsdale certainly has Mikel Arteta’s trust and the Spaniard has put faith in him to be the club’s No1 for years to come.

The pair share a close relationship, with Ramsdale impressed by the way Arteta has connected with his family, who were upset when they read the abuse around his move to Arsenal.

“I think the first phone call I had with the boss it went really well,” says Ramsdale. “He started asking me about the family and things and he personally asked to ring my dad, to be honest I don't actually know what that conversation was about.

“It was just one of those things, to know that the manager wants to find out about your family and it wasn't about him telling my dad: ‘This is the best place for him’ and trying to get me to sign.

“It was actually just finding out what I'm like as a person, what the family is like and you can just feel the culture he has created at the club. He asks about my family, I think he asks about everyone else's family near enough every other week and that shows what type of person he is.

“They (other clubs) ask about your family and stuff but I have never seen it to the extent of having someone's number and dropping a message every now and then to see if everything is alright.”

Ramsdale didn’t brief his dad before he spoke to Arteta, instead letting things happen naturally and organically.

“If he made a fool of himself, he made a fool of himself,” he says. “That is just how he is, as you can probably see through the [All or Nothing] documentary, he is a bit of a character and so am I, so I let him get on with it.”

Arsenal unveil new pink third kit

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Ramsdale’s dad, and whole family in fact, play a big role in the opening episodes of Amazon Prime Video’s fly-on-the-wall documentary of Arsenal’s 2021/22 season, All or Nothing, which launches on Thursday.

The cameras follow them as Ramsdale makes his Premier League debut against Norwich and the anguish on his dad’s face is clear to see as he repeatedly gets up from his seat to go for a walk.

“He hates it, he hates it,” says Ramsdale. “Especially now. He tells me week in, week out to stop passing it into midfield because it gives him a heart attack.

“I just say speak to Mikel [about it]! He has the boss’ number actually from when we were signing, so every now and then he says: ‘I will’ and I just have to pull him and say: ‘No!’

“You never know, I might play in a World Cup or Euros, so it’s something he's got to deal with. But he never shows it when I'm with him, which is a good thing, and I never think about it too much.”

Everyone thinks football is easy, you’re on the pitch two or three hours and you go home, but it’s just not like that

The scenes with Ramsdale’s dad give a glimpse into the life of players’ families. Ramsdale hopes the documentary will be insightful for everyone and show what the squad go through on a daily basis.

“How hard it is to be a footballer,” he says when asked what he hopes fans take from the documentary.

“One of the best jobs in the world, but one of the worst at the same time. Don't get me wrong, this isn't me preaching like: ‘Oh everyone feel sorry for us’, but the time away from families, kids etc, which Granit [Xhaka] has, and living out of a suitcase, travelling.

“Everyone thinks football is easy, you're on the pitch two or three hours and you go home, but it's just not like that. You're travelling 24/7, you're in the gym. But like I said it's not me moaning saying we want some sympathy, it's just the facts of the job.”

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