What’s the greatest football video game of all time
Long a victim of Arsenal self-loathing, Aaron Ramsey will soon be set free.
Sometimes when things are bad enough for long enough, even good things can become tinged with disappointment.
That Ramsey will likely leave behind a confused legacy at Arsenal is a testament to the darkness that has so often engulfed the club during his tenure.
For Ramsey has been a Welsh blessing for the Gunners.
Yet, try asking a club to love a player when it doesn’t really love itself.
Especially a humble, softly spoken Welshman who has never been one to seek out adulation.
Dig deeper and perhaps there has been a feeling of perverse resentment among certain Arsenal fans towards Ramsey’s stoicism in the face of the club’s often-times desperate plight.
Even when this desperation revolved around Ramsey himself.
It was nine years ago that Ramsey suffered that horrific broken leg at Stoke’s then Britannia Stadium.
A time when memories of the gruesome – and arguably title-altering – Eduardo da Silva injury were still fresh and Arsenal was sliding ever further into its non-threatening top four Groundhog Day purgatory.
Arsenal fan outrage at Ryan Shawcross’ x-rated challenge was laced with Stoke-induced self-disgust at a perceived vulnerability.
Another low point in Arsenal’s perpetual winter of discontent.
And yet Ramsey endured, the personification of ‘sticks and stones may break my bones but….’
And there were angry words too, uttered by Ramsey’s own frustrated supporters.
Driven half-mad by their club’s predicament, they were looking in all the wrong places for a scapegoat.
Yet confronted with an injury that could easily have come to define him, Ramsey quietly went about consigning it to a career footnote.
Of course, there have been the long injury lay-offs that one suspects are related to the initial break and which have robbed us of Ramsey’s consistent best.
But then there was that cloudy day at Wembley in May 2014.
A skittish Arsenal entered the FA Cup final against Hull City bearing a nine-year trophy-drought albatross and the still-raw scars from its harrowing Birmingham City League Cup final experience.
Hull went 2-nil up on eight minutes as Arsenal proceeded to do its absolute best Arsenal impersonation.
Only Ramsey wouldn’t let them, not that day on that stage and then he scored…
There have been plenty of other moments and winners, his sublime start to the 2013-14 campaign and the Chelsea FA Cup final winner chief among them.
That he has never appeared to succumb to frustration despite his club’s dysfunction almost as impressive.
And soon he’ll be leaving.
If it wasn’t official, it is now, Ramsey is off to Turin and it’s sad.
It’s sad because he chose Arsenal at the start – even when Fergie came calling – and it made Gunners smile.
It’s sad because he likely wanted to stay at the end, but poor decisions by a confused administration meant that he couldn’t.
Sad for Arsenal, but perhaps best for Ramsey.