New Wales captain Aaron Ramsey looking for next generation to make own mark
New captain Aaron Ramsey has insisted Wales’ young generation can create their own history after the departures of Gareth Bale and others.
Ramsey has taken over the captaincy for the Euro 2024 qualifying campaign after Bale, the team’s record scorer and most capped player, ended his illustrious career in January.
Chris Gunter, Joe Allen and Jonny Williams, also part of the Wales squad who reached the semi-finals of Euro 2016, have retired from the international scene as manager Rob Page ushers in a new era for Welsh football.
“Gareth, Joe, Jonny, Gunts have been instrumental for us over the years and will forever be a part of Welsh history,” said Ramsey.
“We will be forever grateful for what they brought to this team, this nation, and we’ll miss those players around the place.
“But football is forever changing and there’ll be opportunities now for these younger players to step up and show what they’re capable of. Hopefully now we can create our own history.”
Wales are hoping to make a third successive appearance at the European Championship in Germany in the summer of 2024.
The qualifiers come on the back of a poor 2022 World Cup campaign in Qatar when Page’s side scored only once – a Bale penalty – and finished bottom of their group.
“It was disappointing,” Ramsey said ahead of an opening qualifying double-header against Croatia and Latvia this week, with Armenia and Turkey completing the Group D line-up.
“You have a big build-up going into it, the first time for many years (Wales had qualified). You want to go there and show what you are capable of doing, but we didn’t quite get to the level we are used to.
“But we learned a lot from that and it will put us in a good place for future tournaments and qualifying for future World Cups. This squad is very exciting to be part of.”
The 78-times cap Ramsey takes over the captaincy on a full-time basis again over 11 years after losing the job.
Ramsey, now 32, was appointed captain in March 2011 at the tender age of 20.
But he lost the role 18 months later after a 6-1 defeat to Serbia when then-manager Chris Coleman gave the armband to Ashley Williams.
The Nice midfielder said: “It’s been a long time since I last had it, a lot has changed in that period of time.
“I was 20 years old and it was a very unusual experience at the time, but one that I’ll be forever grateful for from Gary (Speed).
“But I’ve learnt a lot over the years and now I feel like I’m ready for this. It’s a really proud moment for me and my family, and hopefully it can be a very successful time for us.”
Asked whether he had considered ending his own international career post-Qatar, Ramsey said: “It was a very difficult time after the World Cup.
“I think a lot of things naturally went through your mind afterwards, but after a bit of time to digest it all you’re ready to go again.
“I’ve come back at club level and we’ve been doing really well, I’ve been enjoying my football and I’m playing well. There’s a lot to look forward to.”
Wales will be without vice-captain Ben Davies for their opening two Euro 2024 qualifiers.
The Tottenham defender suffered a suspected hamstring injury in the 3-3 draw at Southampton and Stoke’s Morgan Fox has been called up.
“Morgan Fox has replaced Ben Davies, who has withdrawn from the squad due to injury,” the Football Association of Wales said on their official Twitter account.
“Tom King has been added as an additional goalkeeper.”