Proud Ramsey ready for call of duty

CARDIFF - Just over a year since suffering a career-threatening broken leg, the future is looking bright again for Aaron Ramsey who will become Wales's youngest ever captain on Saturday.

The 20-year-old Arsenal midfielder was appointed by manager Gary Speed as Wales embark on what they hope will be a new era of success against England in a Euro 2012 Group G qualifier at the Millennium Stadium in front of a capacity 70,000-plus crowd.

Ramsey's career was put on hold when he suffered a serious injury in a challenge by Stoke City's Ryan Shawcross that sidelined him for almost 10 months.

Speaking at his first media briefing as Wales new skipper, having only won 11 caps for his country and the last of those 16 months ago, Ramsey said: "It just shows the highs and lows of football.

"I broke my leg a year ago and it was a really low occasion and this is now the best moment in my career and it's amazing how quickly things can turn around.

"I am honoured to be captain at such a young age. Ever since I was a boy I wanted to become a professional footballer and captain my country."

He played down concerns that he is too young to be skipper.

"I've made 50 appearances for one of the biggest clubs in the world and I've played at a high level early in my career," he said.

"I'm not a screamer and shouter but I'm not going to change the way I am. Some people are going to disagree with it, but Gary Speed thought it was the right decision. It's come at a young age and hopefully I can be captain for many years."

Ironically, the appointment of Ramsey as Wales skipper has hardly caused a ripple amongst the Welsh media, unlike last week's change of captaincy in the England squad.

Manager Fabio Capello has endured huge criticism for the way he handled the re-instatement of John Terry as skipper a year after off-field problems led to him removing the captain's armband from the Chelsea defender.

In total contrast, Wales manager Speed had a few quiet words with Ramsey before announcing his decision.

"Aaron leads by example on and off the pitch and I think everyone looks up to him as well," Speed told reporters on Friday.

Speed's first game in charge of Wales was a disappointing 3-0 defeat to Ireland in a Celtic Nations Cup match, but he is hoping that they can get their Euro qualifying campaign back on track after three straight defeats.

He said: "This is our first real squad, we only had one day before the last game. It's been a fine balance of preparing for the future and for this game.

"We have been putting things in place to make us successful in the future, and, at the same time, focusing on a massive game tomorrow."

Wales have been hit by an injury to their best player Gareth Bale, who is out with a hamstring strain, but Speed insisted: "We are not a one-man team, and whoever comes in will do a good job and hopefully lead us to a very positive result."