Aaron Ramsey says he “knew straight away” that he wanted to play for Arsenal as soon as he met Arsene Wenger for the first time but admits he was overawed by their big-name stars.
The Welshman joined the Gunners in 2008 from Cardiff City for only £5million and was thrown straight into the first-team squad alongside the likes of Robin van Persie, Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri.
Ramsey, who was also attracting interest from Manchester United at the time, has revealed that he felt slightly intimidated by the established Premier League names in the dressing room but it wasn’t long before they were helping him to settle in.
“I had to make a decision at the time [of signing for the club],” he told Arsenal Player.
“I flew over to see the boss and I knew straight away that this was where I wanted to be, I wanted to be in his plans and I was just buzzing.
“As soon as I came in on the first day I was a bit starstruck with all the faces there, some of the biggest players in world football.
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“I am sure they were all thinking, ‘who is this guy coming in?’ and it was nerve racking going around and introducing yourself, meeting some of the top players in the Premier League.
“It was a bit surreal and I had to pinch myself, but they made me feel welcome straight away and made me feel like they were no different [to anyone else].”
Following loan spells at Nottingham Forest and Cardiff in 2010 and 2011, Ramsey came back to become a regular in the Gunners line-up.
“I think I am a bit louder now than I was then!” he said. “You understand how things go on and off the pitch a bit better.
“It only seems like the other day that I was signing for Arsenal, but there has been eight years in between – so it goes before you notice really.
“I left home as a 17-year-old to live on my own and it was quite tough, but I have grown up a lot since then. I suppose football has helped with that and I have started a young family now, so much has happened in those eight years.”