By Sam Ford
Arsenal goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale is set for a reunion with ex-club AFC Wimbledon in Wednesday’s EFL Cup third round fixture at the Emirates.
Having only joined the Dons in the January transfer window, the Bournemouth loanee went on to play an instrumental role in the club’s successful bid to avert relegation from the third tier in the 2018/19 campaign.
Before arrival of Ramsdale – known as Rambo to fans – Wimbledon were languishing in bottom place five points adrift, yet clawed their way back up the table, largely thanks to keeper’s dazzling performances.
One Wimbledon fan travelling to North London and certainly hoping Ramsdale can continue to keep ernd Leno out of the starting XI is Gary Belton, the Wombles fan who paraded the 6ft 2in keeper on his shoulders having secured their League One status on the last day of the season away at Bradford.
“When that final whistle went, it was pure elation,” said Gary.
“We all stormed the pitch and Rambo in particular was absolutely bouncing – he was on fire!
“I went up to him and said ‘hop on Rambo’ – he was right up for it.
“He was a big lump, but the adrenaline was pumping and once he was up, I wasn’t dropping him!”
This is our loanee goal keeper @AaronRamsdale98 being carried by the @AFCWimbledon fans. He bought into the Wimbledon story and his performances were key in our survival. He won't be forgotten. pic.twitter.com/LseYcDvgLH
— Richard Lines (@RichLines) May 4, 2019
“He had that relationship with supporters – that’s why we loved him,” Belton added.
“We’d get a 0-0 draw and he’d be right in amongst it – he really bought into us as a club.
“It did also help that he was possibly the best shot-stopper for us I’ve seen since my first game in 1980!”
Amazing scenes at Valley Parade yesterday. Brilliant effort by Wally and the boys over the last 12 matches to achieve something unbelievable. What a club! Thanks to all involved in the Great Escape. #WeAreStayingUp #COYD #AFCW #AFCWimbledon pic.twitter.com/YvY2LUqSG3
— Graham (@wombles31) May 5, 2019
The Arsenal ace has started for Mikel Arteta in the previous three fixtures, keeping a clean sheet in every game.
Now the hope for Dons fans is that he will feature again, just as long as he concedes his first goal as a Gooner.