Sheffield United's Aaron Ramsdale reveals kind gesture from Man Utd star Marcus Rashford ahead of trip to Old Trafford

Six weeks ago, as he came to terms with Sheffield United’s latest defeat of what had already become a morale-sapping season, Aaron Ramsdale felt a tap on the shoulder as he trudged towards the dressing room.

Only forty minutes or so earlier, Marcus Rashford had just scored the second of his two goals during a hard-fought battle at Bramall Lane. But before celebrating Manchester United’s win, the England international and social policy campaigner wanted to discover how Ramsdale was coping with life at the other end of the table.

It was a gesture, as the two clubs prepare to meet again at Old Trafford tomorrow night, Ramsdale still appreciates as he attempts to try and help Chris Wilder’s side complete what would surely be the greatest escape act in Premier League history.

“When they came to our place earlier this season, I had a good chat with Marcus following the match,” Ramsdale told The Star, after revealing details of their meeting during yesterday’s pre-match media conference.

Aaron Ramsdale, the Sheffield United goalkeeper: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

“To be honest, we don’t know each other than well, so for him to come up and ask about me and my mum and dad was lovely of him. The humility and humbleness of him really shone through.

"That taught me something. It really did. It showed that no matter what position you’re in, you should always care and think about others.”

Ramsdale has also experienced the other side of the game in recent weeks, as United come under increasing scrutiny following their miserable start to the campaign.

Aaron Ramsdale and Sheffield United goalkeeping coach Darren Ward: Paul Terry/Sportimage

That loss in December was their 12th in 13 outings. Only four more points have been collected since then, with Wilder squad’s finishing the latest round of fixtures 12 points adrift of safety.

Some of the criticism Ramsdale has faced since rejoining the club from AFC Bournemouth during the close season has been especially savage; particularly on social media where, despite listening to his manager advise young players to mute their accounts, the 22-year-old remains a visible presence.

Fortunately, although the Twitter and Instagram trolls remain a menace, Ramsdale is not short of encouragement and advice.

Manchester United's Marcus Rashford (centre) scores for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side: Phil Noble/PA Wire

Other members of the goalkeeping union, even those he is not personally familiar with, have been quick to offer their guidance to the England under-21 international as he negotiates his way through the most challenging period of his career.

“The great thing about being a ‘keeper is that we all find it really easy to tralk to each other, even if we haven’t met before,” Ramsdale said. “Because of the role, because we all appreciate the challenges of the position, we knoe each other without knowing each other, if that makes sense.

“The other week, for instance, when we played Tottenham, I had a good chat with Joe Hart. Every now and then you’ll receive a DM (direct message) from someone on social media and that’s really appreciated.

"These lads are so experienced - people like Nick Pope, Tom Heaton and Jordan Pickford - and I know them from the England set-up. So when they tell you something, you listen, because of what they’ve achieved. And it means a lot too.”

Heaton, previously of Manchester United and now of Aston Villa, has become a particularly important mentor after first meeting Ramsdale at St George’s Park - where Gareth Southgate’s squad and the Young Lions prepare for matches.

Jussi Jaaskelainen, the former Bolton Wanderers and Finland goalkeeper is another. Ramsdale, who started his career at the University of Bolton Stadium, is best friends with Jaaskelainen’s son Will.

“It’s always really humbling when you speak with these guys, and it’s invaluable experience too,” Ramsdale said.

“Tom is one of the greats when it comes to this kind of thing. When we’re training with England, the amount of time he stops you in the corridor or sits down for a coffee with you to pass stuff - it’s all the time, it’s really appreciated.”

“Jussi is another who is always there if I need him,” he continued. “I know he’s on the other end of a phone. Me and his lad were the same age at Bolton together and we’re still really close.

"Jussi always says ‘Just be yourself. Don’t try and be anyone else and don’t dwell on your mistakes.’ He says it’s how you react to them that’s important.”

By his own admission, Ramsdale has enjoyed more opportunities than either he and Wilder would like to draw upon Jaaskelainen’s guidance since completing his £18m move from AFC Bournemouth during the close season.

Despite being born in Staffordshire, Ramsdale progressed through United’s youth system after severing his ties with Wanderers; making two senior appearances before being lured to the south coast.

With Bournemouth being relegated last season, and United finishing ninth, Wilder handed Ramsdale the task of replacing Dean Henderson when he returned to Old Trafford following two years on loan.

Although Ramsdale’s confidence has clearly suffered since returning to South Yorkshire, a dramatic loss of form throughout the entire squad means every single one of his errors are magnified. Henderson, barring the odd notable exception, benefited from much greater protection.

“It’s been tough because I’m so emotionally invested in this club,” Ramsdale said. “I really do care about it and so things do take an effect.

“Maybe that’s something I could have dealt with better at times and maybe I’ve put too much pressure on myself at times because of that. But, at the same time, I wouldn’t want it any other way because that’s the great thing about this club - it really sucks you in.”

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