Aaron Ramsey bid a tearful farewell to Arsenal on the Bank Holiday weekend, ending a long association with the Gunners.
He’s secured a move to Juventus, arguably one of the biggest clubs in the world. He’ll count Cristiano Ronaldo amongst his teammates next season and after several campaigns without trophies at the Emirates, he’s surely going to need a shelf or two for the silverware he’s likely to win next year, as Juventus remain amongst the favourites in Serie A betting.
For a humble boy from Caerphilly, it’s a huge move guaranteed to bring the spotlight onto him and to draw comparisons with another great Welsh player from an altogether different generation.
Aaron Ramsey – By Chensiyuan – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0
John Charles was a post-war Leeds United legend who bagged 150 goals in eight seasons at Elland Road. His exploits caught the eye of the Turin giants and in 1957 he swapped the industrial north of England for Turin and the bright lights of the Stadio delle Alpi.
His move cost The Old Lady £65,000, a British record at the time and it made world headlines. He was one of the very first British players to secure a move to a top foreign club, with John Fox Watson who had gone to Real Madrid at the end of the forties.
Charles was a huge hit in Italy and if Ramsey has half of the success then he’ll be revered in their new home, the Allianz Stadium. Charles started off with a winning goal in a game against Hellas Verona, bagged two more winners in his next two fixtures, and swiftly became a fan favourite and a firm first team fixture.
He was nicknamed ‘Il Gigante Buono’ (The Gentle Giant) owing to his towering 6ft 2in frame. He had been deployed as a centre back in his early career, but his move cemented him as a centre forward. In his first season he finished as Serie A’s leading scorer, banging in 28 goals as they went on to a title win.
In total he won three Serie A title and two Italian Cups during a five-year stay in Italy. He’s been voted the most successful foreign import of all time by the Juve fans and is still regarded as a true great of world football.
John Charles – By Unknown – Aa.Vv. (1993) “1956-1961 Una Juve da sogno” in (in italian) La Signora del Secolo. 90 anni di storia fotografica della Juventus, Milan: Fabbri Editori, p. 129, Public Domain,
Charles, born in Swansea, never recaptured his form after leaving Italy. He returned to Leeds, but after just three goals in eleven matches he was sold to Roma. Again, he couldn’t reclaim the glory of his stay in Turin and he scored just four in ten.
Aaron Ramsey won’t have the same impact as John Charles, not on the playing side of things nor culturally, but his move does afford him the chance to shake off the shackles of his Gunners’ spell. He’s been a star for his country but at times found game time limited at the Emirates, unfairly for such a cultured and attack-minded midfielder.
It could be argued he hasn’t quite had the same pace to his game as he did before Ryan Shawcross’ horror challenge in 2010. it hasn’t taken away from his close control and his innate ability to unlock a defence, be it with a pass or a shot of his own. At just 28-years-old, he is still at an age where he can be significantly more than a bit-part player in Juventus’ future.