Arsenal: David Seaman on ‘perfectionist’ Aaron Ramsdale and why he’s backing Mikel Arteta

Goalkeepers and Arsenal have not always gone hand in hand. Not since David Seaman was in between the sticks. There was the shaky Manuel Almunia, the talented but inexperienced Wojciech Szczesny and then the ageing Peter Cech. 

Bernd Leno looked like the quality name the Gunners could depend on when he arrived from Bayer Leverkusen for £22million but mistakes crept into his game and he’s been ousted. 

The 23-year-old who’s taken his place is now being talked up as a future England No 1, but Aaron Ramsdale’s path to the top hasn’t been a straightforward one.  

Former Arsenal goalkeeper David Seaman has been left in awe of Aaron Ramsdale this season

Seaman - who is raising awareness for bowel cancer through Football Shirt Friday - is working with the Gunners academy and is delighted with Ramsdale's progress

Seaman – who is raising awareness for bowel cancer through Football Shirt Friday – is working with the Gunners academy and is delighted with Ramsdale’s progress

Relegated back to back with Bournemouth in 2019-20 and Sheffield United in 2020-21, Ramsdale’s switch to the Emirates this summer wasn’t exactly greatly received. 

But after claiming a first-team spot under Mikel Arteta and pulling out a string of classy displays, he is starting to change the perception.  

Seaman – who is spreading awareness of bowel cancer by encouraging fans to wear their favourite jerseys on Football Shirt Friday – has been getting to know the recent England debutant on their London Colney training pitch. 

The former Three Lions star works with goalkeepers in the youth set-up so doesn’t work with Ramsdale directly, but has seen enough of his quality to convince him that Arsenal were always getting a top shot-stopper.

‘Everyone is saying, “he’s been relegated twice”, but it wasn’t all his fault – they had to get past 10 outfielders first!’ he tells Sportsmail.  

‘I look back and think – he’s had a full season with Sheffield United in relegation situations and that is big pressure, massive pressure when your club is in a relegation fight.

‘I’ve been there with Birmingham City and he’s done it twice, so that shows to me he can play under pressure. [We are] negative with [saying], “he’s had two relegations, he’s not very good”. He had a lot to do in both those seasons, and built a reputation big enough for Arsenal to come and buy him. 

He feels the 23-year-old keeper was too harshly treated after back-to-back relegations

He feels the 23-year-old keeper was too harshly treated after back-to-back relegations

‘He’s been playing so many games, and that’s really important for a goalkeeper. When you look at England goalkeepers, they’re all playing. It’s not easy being the Arsenal goalkeeper but he’s making it a little bit easier because he has all those games to fall back on.’

Many will make the comparisons between Seaman and Ramsdale after seeing pictures of them embracing on the training ground. A former Arsenal and England No 1 now possibly passing the torch. Ramsdale has a long way to go in cementing both positions, and is in good hands with goalkeeping coach Inaki Cana.

Seaman insists Cana and Ramsdale should take the plaudits for his recent displays – which included a world-class fingertip save to keep out James Maddison’s effort in a win at Leicester. 

He is simply there if Ramsdale ever needs guidance – but admits he cannot even give him much advice at present because the player isn’t making enough mistakes. 

‘I just chat with [Ramsdale], he says. ‘He’s got his own goalkeeping coach, he gets all the training from him. I’m just there as a mentor. If he wants to ask questions about certain situations. I’m just there to pass on experience and advice. He’s doing brilliantly, he’s just working hard in training and that’s all he can do. 

Ramsdale has quickly risen to Arsenal's No 1 after joining them for £18.5million this summer, and made a quite incredible stop to deny Leicester's James Maddison scoring recently

Ramsdale has quickly risen to Arsenal’s No 1 after joining them for £18.5million this summer, and made a quite incredible stop to deny Leicester’s James Maddison scoring recently

Seaman has been lending his advice to Ramsdale - but admits he cannot teach him much because the goalkeeper isn't making many mistakes

Seaman has been lending his advice to Ramsdale – but admits he cannot teach him much because the goalkeeper isn’t making many mistakes

‘If you miss a cross in a game, you’ll work on that exact situation in training – that’s what he’s been doing. He’s doing everything perfectly – I can’t really advise him at the moment! He’s not really putting a foot wrong. 

‘Everyone talks about his save against Leicester, but the one he made against Tottenham against the bar was just as good. He wants perfection, he wants clean sheets, as goalkeepers thats what we get remembered for. We don’t want 5-4s or 3-2s, we want 1-0 to the Arsenal!’

Ramsdale made his bow for England against San Marino this week, but it’s fair to say he wasn’t at all tested as Gareth Southgate’s men ran out 10-0 winners. There is much work ahead to dethrone Everton’s Jordan Pickford, who hasn’t done much wrong in goal for the national team.

So what does it take – coming from the man who’s already done it – to not only thrive as England No 1, but to stay there too? 

Ramsdale made his full England debut against San Marino and is eyeing the No 1 jersey

Ramsdale made his full England debut against San Marino and is eyeing the No 1 jersey

Seaman has much experience in that arena and has urged him to be as consistent as possible

Seaman has much experience in that arena and has urged him to be as consistent as possible 

‘It takes good performances, consistent performances,’ he adds. ‘That’s what Jordan has done. That’s what Aaron needs to do – if he gets in – he’s got to be consistent. Jordan has done nothing wrong for England. 

‘It will be hard for Aaron to get in there, but if he does, [he’s got to] really grasp it. It’s not a case of “he’s gonna go straight in because he’s doing well for his club”. Everyone knows it will be hard to get Jordan out, but when and if it happens, Aaron has to be ready for it.’ 

Two other England stars have also been blossoming in north London this year – Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe. Both midfielders have made an impression on the national team too – with Saka in particular gaining plenty of admirers for his exciting style of play at Euro 2020. 

With Smith Rowe gaining his first two caps over the international break, and scoring his first goal, it’s an exciting time for Arsenal’s academy, who continue to produce top talent at a steady pace. 

Having seen the best the club has to offer at youth level, Seaman believes the progress Saka and Smith Rowe have made can only be a positive for the kids trying to emulate them.

The ex-Gunners star has also been impressed with Emile Smith Rowe (left) and Bukayo Saka, and hailed the impact the young duo were having on the club's academy

The ex-Gunners star has also been impressed with Emile Smith Rowe (left) and Bukayo Saka, and hailed the impact the young duo were having on the club’s academy

‘The biggest thing I’ve noticed is the standard of the players is so much higher, the youngsters almost look like they can step into the first team any day,’ says Seaman. 

‘Smith Rowe and Saka are great to see for the youngsters because they know it can happen, they always believe they’ve got a chance. 

‘Totally [players look up to them], they’ve both been in the England squad now, it’s amazing. If you watch them play you would think they were 26 years old. They play with such confidence, experience, they’re always energetic and want to push forwards. I noticed that with Saka [at the Euros], he always wanted to get forward. It’s great for the academy and Arsenal.

‘[Smith Rowe] is a mixture of Jack Wilshere and Paul Merson. He reminds me a lot of Paul Merson, really good right foot. We used to call Merse ‘the magic man’ because he could produce magic with that right foot and hopefully that’s what Smith Rowe is going to do too.’

Seaman feels Mikel Arteta's hard work in training is finally showing on the pitch with Arsenal unbeaten since August after a tough start to the campaign

Seaman feels Mikel Arteta’s hard work in training is finally showing on the pitch with Arsenal unbeaten since August after a tough start to the campaign

The trio of England stars in Arsenal’s team have helped turn the tide after a woeful start to the season saw them lose the first three games – including a 2-0 loss to newly-promoted Brentford. 

They went into the first international break bottom of the league while rivals Spurs were top – now they sit just two points off the top four ahead of a huge clash against Liverpool at Anfield on Saturday night.

Head coach Arteta came under a lot of pressure during that period and became one of the favourites to be sacked. The Spaniard may be somewhat misunderstood. 

Is he tough on his players? Does he have a clear game plan? We’ll have a proper answer to that when the club’s fly-on-the-wall documentary comes out on Amazon next year, but Seaman has always had confidence in his abilities having seen him on the training pitch. 

‘Mikel was under a lot of pressure last season and people weren’t too sure about him, but now his hard working is finally coming through,’ he says. 

Arsenal face Liverpool on Saturday and face a tough test against Mo Salah and Sadio Mane

Arsenal face Liverpool on Saturday and face a tough test against Mo Salah and Sadio Mane

‘I’ve seen him working on the training pitch – he’s brilliant. The board have shown that confidence in them by giving him quite a lot of money to spend, they wouldn’t do that if they weren’t confident in him. 

‘No [he’s not shy], he’s got a steely determination about himself and a great personal confidence as well. He knows what he’s doing, he’s been taught by a really good coach in Pep [Guardiola]. He was there for a while with him and he’s come to Arsenal as a captain of the club, he knows what the club is about. 

‘His connection with the club is brilliant. He was at a film premiere for Arsene Wenger’s movie, I was happy to see him there with all his successors, he’s only going to take positives from that. 

Liverpool come into this game hungry to bounce back after a damaging defeat to West Ham last time out – while the Gunners have won four on the spin and are unbeaten since August. 

Seaman believes Arsenal are now playing with an identity under Arteta and should take confidence from how the Hammers exposed the Reds.

Seaman says Ramsdale will be a 'busy man' but should play the waiting game in a 1v1 situation

Seaman says Ramsdale will be a ‘busy man’ but should play the waiting game in a 1v1 situation

‘Mikel really changed it round, he’s got them playing with identity, they know what they’re doing, talking about the process. There’s a bit more toughness, a bit of game management. 

‘I see confidence growing. At the start everyone was saying “what process?” Now they’re suddenly realising what’s going on. Liverpool are absolutely flying so it’s going to be a proper test.’

Ramsdale will have a tough task in keeping out Liverpool stars Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane – who have 16 goals combined already. Seaman’s advice to his protege?

‘You wait [for Salah and Mane], you wait and see what comes to you. You wait, let them make their minds up, don’t make their mind up for them. It’s like a game of poker, who blinks first. Aaron might be a little bit busy!’

David Seaman is supporting Football Shirt Friday, the Bobby Moore Fund’s flagship national fundraising and awareness campaign. 

Football Shirt Friday takes place on Friday 19th November and this year’s tagline is ‘wear, share, donate’, with people encouraged to take part by wearing their favourite football shirts, sharing a selfie and donating to tackle bowel cancer. 

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