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“ Aron Ramsey “

Postby Forever Blue » Tue Jun 08, 2021 5:49 am

The Wales agony fuelling Juventus star Aaron Ramsey and the brutal challenge ahead at Euro 2021

Juventus ace Aaron Ramsey has played in just 19 of Wales' 44 games since Euro 2016

By Ian Mitchelmore

Tuesday 8th June 2021

Wales star Aaron Ramsey

Aaron Ramsey was among a clutch of Wales stars to steal the limelight at Euro 2016.

The attacking midfielder - along with Joe Allen - was named in the team of the tournament after a glittering run that saw Chris Coleman's reach the semi-finals in France.

However, after the heartbreak of failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia following a 1-0 defeat to Republic of Ireland in Cardiff, Ramsey's influence on the international stage has drastically waned.

In what can only be described as an experimental first year under Ryan Giggs, Ramsey featured in five of Wales' nine games in 2018.

Injuries started to take their toll on the man whose performances and hair colour had lit up France just a few years earlier.

Crunch time arrived in Giggs' second year at the helm, although Ramsey missed the first six of Wales' eight Euro 2020 qualifying matches along with the friendly clashes against Trinidad and Tobago and Belarus.

In addition to his own fitness problems, Ramsey was in the process of adapting to life in Italy having joined Serie A powerhouses Juventus from Arsenal - the club he joined from Cardiff City more than a decade earlier.

“I feel the last few years have been frustrating," explained Ramsey.

"Different environment, different methods and things like that. It's not something I've been used to.

"I was at one club for a very long time and I think adapting to that took a lot longer. I've had to change a few things but now I feel like I'm in a good place."

In late 2019, there was finally some positive news when it came to Ramsey's efforts in a Wales shirt as he featured as a substitute in a 2-0 win over Azerbaijan in Baku - a result that ensured Giggs' side were in control of their own destiny going into the final qualifier against Hungary.

Ramsey was handed his first international start in a year and stole the show by netting both goals as Wales secured a 2-0 victory to book their place at the European Championships once again.

However, the pain of playing so little for his country was a feeling Ramsey could never shake off.

“I'm a proud Welshman who wants to play for Wales and help my team as much as I can," explained the 30-year-old.

"For me to have missed a few games now over the last few years has been very frustrating and difficult for me.

"Hopefully now that's behind me and I can look forward to all these games in the European Championships.

"I feel like I'm in a good place. I've definitely worked hard over the last few months to get my body back into a good place.

"It's a different set-up with a different environment.

"We're all excited to be going into it so we've got a lot to look forward to. Not just me, a lot of the players who haven't experienced this before. They're really buzzing and we just can't wait for the first whistle to go."

Wales begin their latest Euro campaign against Switzerland in Baku on Saturday.

The Red Dragons know only too well about the importance of starting the group stages with a bang having beaten Slovakia 2-1 in Bordeaux five years ago in what was their first ever game at the Euros.

Victory against the Swiss would go a long way to ensuring Wales could progress from what is undoubtedly a hotly-contested Group A which also contains Italy and Turkey.

And Ramsey is only too aware of how tough a task Wales have ahead of them in the coming weeks.

“It's a very difficult group and we will have to take one game at a time, but our target is to get out of the group so we're going to have to be fully focused, hit the ground running and it's going to be essential for me, not just the players that have experienced it all before to help the other boys through this," he said.

"They're a good bunch with a lot of quality between them so I'm sure they'll be just fine."

Kick-off against Switzerland is at 2pm on Saturday.

Wales face Turkey in Azerbaijan on Wednesday, June 16 before completing the group phase of Euro 2020 against Italy in Rome four days later.
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