Aaron Ramsdale's former U11 teammate reveals pride in Sheffield United man after Euros call with England
As a proud England fan, Conah Maidment would have been glued to his TV screen anyway on Friday evening when Gareth Southgate’s men took on the auld enemy Scotland in the European Championships.
But the 24-year-old had extra incentive to keen both eyes on events at Wembley – when his former teammate with Marsh Town’s junior teams, Aaron Ramsdale was called into the England squad in the days before the clash with the Scots.
“Aaron was playing a year above his age with Marsh Town, which is sometimes difficult,” Maidment told The Star. “Especially as a goalkeeper.
“He always conducted himself really well, always fitted in with the lads a year older than him. And ability wise, he was always consistent.
“He even played outfield a few times, on the right wing if I remember right, as he was equally good with his feet. I remember him hitting stepovers and Ronaldo chops, and that ability on the ball is as desired in a goalkeeper as ever nowadays.
“As we got a bit older I remember he'd turn up on a Sunday after going away to train with professional clubs and players on the Saturday, most notably some time with Bolton and the Jaaskelainens. He was already tall for his age at the time, your average tall and slim teenager, but the power and stature you see in him now is all hard work.”
Ramsdale was called up into Southgate’s senior squad after Dean Henderson, the former United loan goalkeeper of Manchester United, succumbed to a hip injury that would have limited him throughout the tournament.
Ramsdale, United’s player of the season as they were relegated to the Championship last season, was initially named in England’s provisional squad for the Euros before being cut from the 26-man roster.
The young goalkeeper had, by his own admission, a difficult start to his second spell at Bramall Lane after returning last summer in a big-money move from Bournemouth, and fellow goalkeeper Simon Moore paid tribute to Ramsdale’s mental strength after his England call-up.
“He’s a great lad, and a fantastic goalkeeper,” Moore, who worked with Ramsdale at United before being released this summer, said.
“I’m so pleased for him, with the success he’s had, and hopefully he goes on to have much more. To get called up for England is something you dream about as a young lad and to have the mental strength to turn around what was a difficult start for him, he deserves so much credit.”
The 23-year-old spent time on loan at AFC Wimbledon and Chesterfield after joining Bournemouth from United in 2017 and admitted on the eve of the Scotland game that he was not sure if he would cry when the national anthem rang around Wembley.
“It’s mind-boggling to think Aaron is at the Euros,” Maidment, a student at Derby University, added.
“Even though I've been watching him on TV since he was on loan at AFC Wimbledon, when they beat West Ham in the FA Cup. It’s surreal to watch someone I knew so well doing what we have all dreamed of.
“When you’re playing football at 11, your dream is to play for your favourite team and for England. And Aaron is doing just that.”