Arsenal goalkeeper, Aaron Ramsdale has named a legendary FIFA World Cup winner as his football idol.
Ramsdale joined Arsenal before the start of last season from Sheffield United and has been a major part of the team’s success this season with his saves.
Despite starting his career with Bolton Wanderers’ youth system and growing under the influence of former Bolton goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen, Ramsdale says Italian legend Gianluigi Buffon is his football idol.
“My first real memory of football and goalkeeping was the 2006 World Cup.
“That’s when I got Buffon’s goalie shirt, the gold Italian shirt with a little white undershirt, around the collar. It was short-sleeved, which is probably why I like to wear short sleeves now. So he was probably the first one I looked up to on TV.
“He was the first goalkeeper I really watched, and liked the way he played. It was probably the kit as well, a goalie with short sleeves, he stood out and he was a star. I think he had the headband too at that point, and they obviously won on penalties, so he was the first one I remember watching.”
Buffon won the FIFA World Cup with Italy in 2006 and was awarded the Golden Glove as the best goalkeeper of the tournament.
The 45-year old started his international career in the 1997 World Cup and went on to become the most capped player for his country with 176 appearances, and the seventh-most capped footballer of all time. He played in 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010 and 2014 after making his debut in 1997.
“I watched him win the World Cup, and I thought ‘wow’ but I wouldn’t say I’ve got anything from his game especially. I’d love to take his longevity though!”
The Arsenal goalie also says watching Jaaskelainen do it at Bolton in the Premier League inspired him.
“As I was going through the Bolton system Jaaskelainen was a big part of my career – he was my early inspiration.”
“Being able to watch him every other weekend at the home games was obviously huge for me, and then becoming close family friends with him and being able to speak to him about football and play in the garden with him and his son William, who’s the same age as me.
“I’m still very close with them, but for me at that age to be around a Premier League player was huge. Also his coach at Bolton, Fred Barber, was the one who trained me in Stoke.
“He’s still coaching at Crewe, after being at Bolton for years, and has a goalkeeping school in Stoke which is where I went to before moving to Bolton. So we had a connection with the Jaaskalainens through different people, and he was definitely an inspiration for me.”
“Obviously getting coached by the same coach that Jussi worked with in Fred, he obviously stuck to his principles and taught all of the people who went to that goalkeeping school the same way.
“So you are given the basis, but then you see someone in the Premier League doing it week in, week out, you know it’s working. So probably the way I position my hands and my legs are very similar to Jussi. I think it’s more subconscious though, after years of training that way with Fred.
“If you see it in people you look up to, you’ll try it, and if it sticks, it stays forever without you even thinking about it,” he said.
Aaron Ramsdale has started all 29 of Arsenal’s Premier League matches this season and three in the Europa League. After successive relegations with Bournemouth and Sheffield United in the league, the 24-year old is hoping to help Arsenal win the title this season.
He has 12 clean sheets in the league this season, one behind international teammate Nick Pope, who has 13.
Arsenal beat Leeds United 4-1 on Saturday and will continue their quest for the first Premier League title on Sunday against Liverpool.