Ramsey hails Arsenal fans and Wenger after FA Cup triumph
Welshman savours the atmosphere as Gunners parade trophy and Wenger pledges to extend contract
One of the first things Aaron Ramsey did on waking on Sunday morning was to take to Twitter. The Arsenal midfielder had not only scored the winning goal in the Gunners' thrilling 3-2 win over Hull in the final of Saturday's FA Cup, he was also voted man of the match for his impressive display in rallying his side after they conceded two goals in the opening eight minutes. No surprise then that Ramsey tweeted: "Woke up and it turns out it really did happen. Thanks for all the tweets, see you later at the parade!!"
True to his word the young Welshman took part in Arsenal's victory parade as the club celebrated their first trophy in 3,283 days – nine years to the less mathematically-minded - with an estimated 250,000 fans gathered in Islington. In bright sunshine, Ramsey and his teammates showed off the cup from the top of a double-decker bus and no one got a bigger cheer than the 23-year-old whose extra-time goal capped the best season of his career.
"This is what it is all about, getting to Wembley and winning trophies," exclaimed Ramsey. "Being in the final and lifting the trophy at the end of it is what you work for all season. It's what you dream about doing since you were a young kid. I'm over the moon to score the winner but more importantly I'm over the moon to win the trophy and hopefully this will be the first of many."
It was a stirring comeback from the Gunners after Hull had stunned them with two early goals from James Chester and Curtis Davies. For a few awful minutes the Arsenal faithful, who have endured much misery since the club's last trophy in 2005, had visions of yet more failure. But then Santi Carloza pulled a goal back for Arsenal on 17 minutes, the little Spaniard's free-kick a strike of exquisite beauty. Laurent Koscielny's equalizer 19 minutes from time was less easy on the eye but the Frenchman's hooked shot from the edge of the six-yard box took the game into extra-time.
Then, as the prospect of a penalty shootout loomed, came Ramsey's moment of magic, aided and abetted by Oliver Giroud's sublime back heel. It was a goal fit for a cup final and Ramsey knew it. "You could see what it meant to the players, the staff, the manager and the fans," he said. "I'm determined to get back to a final and win more silverware next season."
For Ramsey and all of his Arsenal teammates it was their first taste of FA Cup glory, though for manager Arsene Wenger it was his fifth success (a competition record matched only by Manchester United's Alex Ferguson). Yet the Frenchman rates Saturday's win as his pick of the five. "This was more important than all the others," declared Wenger. "We have twice won the double, but were not under pressure then like we were today."
And he was quick to honour the loyalty of the fans, even though in the past season more than a few have called for his head. "Our players are great but our fans are even greater and they have shown that again," said Wenger. "On behalf of everybody at the club I would like to thank all the fans very deeply. We realise how much they love our club and we are grateful for that... they've gone through some difficult times and they've always recovered, responded and I think the club can be very proud about what they've achieved this season."
Wenger also confirmed that he would be extending his contract with Arsenal in the coming days, a move that has been welcomed by Ramsey. "He's had a massive influence on my career," he said. "I don't think it was ever in doubt that he will stay. He has been massive for this club. Over the last few seasons he has come in for a bit of stick from pundits for not winning anything. But he has stuck by his players and this team has proved they are capable of winning things."