Goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale revealed he sought out Bukayo Saka to find out whether Arsenal were interested in him ahead of his move to the club in 2021.
In a piece for The Players Tribune in which he discussed family tragedy, homophobia and his days as a youngster, Ramsdale also reflected on his £30m move to the Gunners.
The 25-year-old pinpointed one moment where he tentatively approached Saka while on international duty with England to gauge whether there was any interest from the Gunners.
“I ran into Bukayo Saka getting a coffee and I didn’t know him that well yet, so I thought, ‘surely I can’t ask him, right?’” He explained.
“I mean, what am I supposed to say? ‘Morning, Bukayo. How you getting on? Erm. Would you happen to know if your football club is interested in me?’ Ridiculous!
“So yeah, that’s exactly what I did.
“He told me that it was real and that the manager had actually rang him to ask about my character and what I was like as a person.
“I guess Bukayo must have told him that I was a decent lad because I got a call from my agent a few days later that the transfer was happening.
“Unreal. Arsenal Football Club. One of the best days of my life. My mates are all texting me… ‘You legend. You legend’.
“Family is over the moon. How can it get any better?”
Ramsdale played an instrumental role as Arsenal finished second in the Premier League last season and secured a return to the Champions League for the first time in seven years.
The progression under Arteta has been extraordinary and Ramsdale is revelling in being a part of a successful Arsenal team once again.
“These first two seasons in north London have been incredible, overall,” he added.
“Obviously, we didn’t achieve our ultimate goal last season, and it still stings. But when I think about the progress we’ve made, I’m really proud.
“If I can just put my football fan hat on for a moment, and see things from the outside, the quality of the lads at this club is excellent.
“I’ll never forget this moment from the 2021-2022 season, when we had just missed out on the top four. To me, it’s when I knew that we were on the right path.
“I was on the bus sitting next to Bukayo after Newcastle away, when we lost 2–0. Everyone was devastated, but the young academy lads like Bukayo and Emile just have so much extra pressure on them. After the match, they were literally on the floor in the dressing room.
“When we got the bus, Bukayo was quiet. Usually, we always have something to chat about, even after a loss. But it was just dead silent. So I sent him a text, even though he was sat right next to me, asking if he was OK and if he wanted to chat.
“We had a five-minute chat, and I’ll keep most of it between us, but I just tried to explain to him how many times I felt like I’d failed in this game, and how proud he should be of taking a team from eighth to fifth, especially after all the abuse he faced at the Euros.
“The best I’d ever done was 18th.”