Soccer  

Aaron Ramsdale: England keeper has ‘pinch yourself’ moments

Host nation: Qatar Dates: 20 November-18 December Coverage: Live on BBC TV, BBC iPlayer, BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru, BBC Sounds and the BBC Sport website and app. Day-by-day TV listingsFull coverage details

England goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale says he is enjoying the “pinch yourself moments” he is currently experiencing.

The 24-year-old is first choice at Premier League leaders Arsenal and one of three England goalkeepers in the World Cup squad in Qatar.

Ramsdale suffered back-to-back relegations from the Premier League with Bournemouth and Sheffield United before signing for Arsenal in 2021.

“There are times when it is a pinch yourself moment,” said Ramsdale.

“I speak to my parents or my wife and I’m in a really good place, especially after the first few years of my career learning my trade in difficult situations.

“It is really enjoyable at the moment and that hard work – you reap your rewards. I’m here now but that does not mean anything. I have to get my head down to try and get into the team.”

Ramsdale was a standout performer in both relegation campaigns with Bournemouth and Sheffield United despite the team’s disappointment.

Since his move to Arsenal, he has become Mikel Arteta’s first-choice goalkeeper and they currently sit five points clear of defending champions Manchester City in the league table.

No team has conceded fewer than Arsenal’s 11 goals this season, with Ramsdale keeping seven clean sheets so far – equal with England team-mate Nick Pope for Newcastle.

“I’ve learnt so much in terms of different experiences. I’m now learning the side of the game being top of the table, being in Europe, being in the England squad,” added Ramsdale.

Of more difficult times, he added: “Those tough moments when certain people have a different outlook… It’s a game of football. I’ve been able to live my life as well.

“If I was too emotionally involved with football I would have struggled to mentally carry on. It is something I really needed.

“I didn’t want [relegation] to happen twice but it did. But I’m here now with that strong backbone which is fundamentally my base.”

Heading into the World Cup, England have not won any of their past six games and were relegated to the Nations League second tier for the first time following defeat by Italy in September.

But Ramsdale said the confidence of the squad, who reached the final of the delayed Euro 2020 last year, has “not been affected”.

“If anything it’s given us extra motivation. We have added motivation to turn our form around and put those results behind us,” said Ramsdale.

“We’re going into this full of confidence, knowing how good we are.”

England kick-off their World Cup campaign in Qatar on Monday when they take on Iran at 13:00 GMT.

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