Aaron Ramsdale: Sheffield United goalkeeper's presence in England's European Championship squad is testament to his talent and character

Six months ago, some people wouldn’t have paid him in washers.

Tuesday, 15th June 2021, 12:54 pm
Updated Tuesday, 15th June 2021, 1:22 pm

Others, following a series of chequered but not catastrophic performances, reckoned he would struggle to catch a cold.

But now, after being summoned into the England squad for this summer’s European Championships, Aaron Ramsdale is viewed as one of the country’s most talented goalkeepers. It has been, by any measure, a remarkable turnaround in fortune.

A month after being named as Sheffield United’s player of the year, Ramsdale is back in the Three Lions fold having been summoned to St George’s Park by Gareth Southgate ahead of Friday’s game against Scotland. It speaks volumes, about the 23-year-old’s ability, that Southgate has selected him to fill the void created by Dean Henderson’s hip injury. And also, after overcoming a difficult start to his second stint with United, his strength of character.

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Aaron Ramsdale has replaced Dean Henderson in England’s European Championship squad after the Manchester United goalkeeper withdrew due to a hip injury. Mike Egerton/PA Wire.

Signed for £18.5m, many observers were questioning former United manager Chris Wilder’s decision to spend so much on Ramsdale within weeks of his return to South Yorkshire. Having sacrificed the youngster at the beginning of his reign - using the £1m received from AFC Bournemouth to fund the recruitment drive which would later help United leave the chasing pack trailing in the race for promotion from League One - Wilder and his coach Darren Ward, whose recommendation convinced him to push through the deal, were being accused of wasting a large chunk of last summer’s transfer budget on someone who wasn’t fit for purpose.

Now, with senior figures at Bramall Lane estimating Ramsdale’s value has more than doubled despite United’s relegation from the Premier League, it looks like being a remarkably shrewd investment. Wilder and Ward, who also departed United following the former’s exit in March, can be forgiven for telling everyone who doubted them: ‘We told you so.’

Having initially been culled from the provisional squad Southgate selected for the tournament earlier this month, Ramsdale’s presence at England’s base in Staffordshire was rightly celebrated by United on their social media channels.

“A proud moment,” the club’s Twitter feed proclaimed when the news he had replaced former United loanee Dean Henderson was officially released by the FA. “The first Sheffield United player to represent England at a major tournament since 1962,” it continued, referencing Alan Hodgkinson’s journey to the 1962 World Cup in South America.

Middlesbrough, England, 6th June 2021. Dean Henderson, Aaron Ramsdale and Jordan Pickford of England warm upduring the International Friendly match at the Riverside Stadium, Middlesbrough. Picture credit should read: Darren Staples / Sportimage

But having been relegated from the Premier League, Ramsdale’s call-up presents them with a problem too. Top-flight sides will inevitably start sniffing around during the transfer window, with Tottenham Hotspur already reportedly among those monitoring his situation. Fortunately Ramsdale has told United he has no intention of leaving, preferring instead to try and help United regain their top-flight status under new manager Slavisa Jokanovic.

With Jordan Pickford and Sam Johnstone already in situ, the chances of Ramsdale gaining a first senior cap during the Euro’s are slim. But, having represented England 15 times at under-21 level, one could soon be sitting on his mantlepiece at home if he continues to impress in the Championship next term.