Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Ramsey Will Defy Wenger by Seizing Golden Opportunity

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Ramsey Will Defy Wenger by Seizing Golden Opportunity

Article excerpt

Byline: John Culley

ARON RAMSEY last night revealed he defied club boss Arsene Wenger to play for Team GB at this summer's London 2012 Olympics. The pair had a meeting after the Arsenal manager had branded the Olympic football competition "not a real football tournament" and made it clear that Ramsey's participation did not have his support.

"We had a meeting in which he gave his opinion and I gave mine," said Ramsey, who had already made the decision to go against the wishes of the Football Association of Wales by accepting Team GB boss Stuart Pearce's invitation to play.

"But the Olympics is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, plus it is the chance to play in an international tournament, an experience I have not had."

Ramsey, 21, is a former Welsh schools pentathlon champion but never imagined he would have the chance to compete in an Olympics, having set his sights on a football career.

"I've followed the Olympics all my life and though I did some athletics at school, I never dreamed about being an Olympic athlete and I never thought about taking part because there isn't normally a Great Britain football team," he said. "So to be part of it and perhaps win a medal is exciting."

Ramsey is one of five Welsh players selected in Stuart Pearce's 18-man squad, along with Liverpool's Craig Bellamy, the Swansea duo Joe Allen and Neil Taylor and Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs, who was named captain when the players gathered to be kitted out at Team GB's Loughborough base camp yesterday. Where Wenger's concerns were for the extra workload on his players in an event he said was "for track and field, not football", the Welsh FA's objections were based on a long-standing opposition to the idea of a Great Britain team and the potential implications for the British home nations and their membership of FIFA. But Ramsey, the captain of the Wales team, and his compatriots decided to go against their national FA's position. …

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