At Last European Championship Aaron Ramsey and Chris Gunter are more inseparable than ever. Making rooms together has been a ritual – and superstition – for over a decade, but the Welsh hotel in Lens, where they stayed before facing England, faced a logistical problem: there wasn't enough space for two beds. Gunter, the best man at Ramsey's wedding at Caldicot Castle, almost did what his best friend would do for 13 years, and jumped onto a spring-loaded couch squeezed by the staff. corner at their request. “Yes, he drew the trash on that!” says Ramsey, laughing.
Ramsey, Gunter and the rest of the Welsh crew flew into Baku on Monday before heading to their base on the city's promenade. When the couple can't get their wish as each player allocates their own room due to Covid protocols. In Azerbaijan, baby-faced Ramsey wins his fourth trophy in Wales on his second trip to the country, while a young team including Gunter
He achieved a 1-0 win in the World Cup qualifiers. .
It was Ramsey's duo against Hungary that determined the qualification for this summer's postponed tournament, but the midfielder started only four of Wales' past 06 matches, including Saturday's final warm-up match against Albania. His club begins his two stop-start seasons for Juventus, most recently against Fiorentina in April. “I feel like the last few years have been frustrating,” he says. “Different setting, different methods and stuff like that. This is not something I'm used to. I was in a club for a very long time and I think it took much longer to adapt. I had to change a few things, but now I feel like I'm in a good place.”
Ramsey is one of eight players on the roster this summer in France that exceeded all expectations. He admits that this type of experience was invaluable when he started his Group A campaign against Switzerland five years ago and on Saturday before Wales, Turkey and matches against Italy. “Our goal is to get out of the group, so we will need to stay fully focused, run to the ground, and helping the other will be crucial, not just for me but for players who have experienced it all before. children this way. They're a good group with a lot of quality in them, so I'm sure they'll do well.”
Ramsey's fitness seems crucial to Wales' hopes, and his former international teammates, Gareth Bale and Joe Allen, have missed his absence.
When Bale was asked if Ramsey wore an Italian accent, the Wales captain insisted it was "just a Caerphilly tune". Wales carefully managed the midfielder's minutes in preparation, and anything remotely close to a proper Ramsey would have been a huge boon. "He didn't play too late, but it's always good to have good players back," says Bale. “He has done what he has done for Wales in the past and we hope he will perform normally.”
If it fits, Ramsey definitely starts but where he plays is another question. Robert Page fielded Ramsey with a false nine against Albania in the first half, before moving him into a more familiar role behind Kieffer Moore. With Ramsey suspended, 29 seconds into the second half, those in the stands and on the touchline feared the worst, but a kick in the leg failed to rein in him. “You don't want him to jerk his knee or sprain his ankle, but none of that happened,” Page said. “It would hurt at first. Minute when I said to him: 'There's another one', then I'll bring you', he said it was fine.”
No, to unleash Daniel James, whose role he showed classy touches in the defeat to France, including a delicious pass, should perhaps give Hugo Lloris more to think about. After a frustrating few years, just being on the field will probably be enough for Ramsey. “I am a proud Welsh who wants to play for Wales and help my team as much as I can,” he says.
“It has been very frustrating and difficult for me for a couple of years to have missed a few games recently. I hope this is over now and I can look forward to all these matches in the European Championship. I'm really excited to be going to the finals in a different setup, in a different environment. We're all excited to get into it, so we have a lot to look forward to. Not just me, we have many players who have never experienced this before. They're really buzzing and we can't wait for the first whistle.”