Ramsey’s boyhood team mates – where are they now?

Ramsey's boyhood team mates - where are they now?

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Aaron Ramsey is embraced by Cardiff manager Dave Jones
Aarom Ramsey was given his senior Cardiff City debut by manager Dave Jones

It has been a long time coming for Cardiff City fans.

Perhaps still not able to fully believe the gifted midfielder has returned to his boyhood club, supporters are eagerly awaiting the moment Aaron Ramsey pulls on a Bluebirds shirt once again.

With the 32-year-old potentially able to take to the field in Cardiff’s friendlies during a pre-season trip to Portugal, it’s the chance for a second debut more than 16 years on from his debut in April 2007 when Ramsey was just 16 himself.

The academy product got his break as a final minute substitute in a Championship fixture against Hull in April 2007, a game Dave Jones’ Cardiff lost 1-0.

A hastily printed note passed around the Ninian Park press-box confirmed Ramsey – at 16 years and 124 days – had become Cardiff’s youngest ever player, breaking the record set by his would-be Wales manager John Toshack.

Given his success with Wales, as well as with the likes of Arsenal and Juventus, it’s of no surprise that the game has gone down in folklore among Cardiff fans.

But what does history have to say for the rest of the Cardiff side that afternoon? BBC Sport Wales has taken a look.

DAVID FORDE

The Galway goalkeeper was making what would be his penultimate appearance for Cardiff having been signed from Derry in the January. After loan spells at Luton and Bournemouth, he moved to Millwall the following summer where he spent nine years, made more than 300 appearances and broke into the Republic of Ireland set up.

Retired in 2019 after a spell at Cambridge, going on to set up a coaching and development company, serving as Head of Psychology at Crystal Palace and a similar role in the Irish set up, and recently revealing self-discovery trips to the Himalayas and Bolivian Shamans.

KEVIN Mc NAUGHTON

A cult hero at Cardiff, right-back McNaughton was in his first season in south Wales after moving from Aberdeen but stayed until 2015 making more than 250 appearances for the Bluebirds, including in the Premier League.

Moved to Wigan in 2015 before spells back in Scotland with Inverness and Forfar. He has spoken publicly about his battle with mental health after retirement in 2018 and is now manager at Scottish sixth-tier side Dundee North End, combing with a role as player liaison in Dundee’s academy,

DARREN PURSE

Centre-back and club captain, Purse had two further campaigns at Cardiff before leaving for Sheffield Wednesday before time at Millwall, Plymouth, Port Vale and Finnish side IFK Mariehamn. Continued playing non-league until the age of 41 in 2018. Spent time coaching in Oxford’s youth set up before returning to the Bluebirds after being appointed Cardiff’s Under-23 manager in December 2022.

ROGER JOHNSON

The centre-back was another in his first season after a successful £275,000 move from Wycombe. Played Premier League football and won the League Cup with Birmingham after a £5m move in 2009 before top-flight captaincy during a difficult time at Wolves. Spent time in the Indian Super League either side of a spell at Charlton before joining Bromley aged 34, going on to spend time at the non-league club as a coach. Lost a high court damages claim for clinical negligence against a knee specialist over an alleged “surgical error” in April 2022. Managed National League side Brackley Town last season before leaving in April.

DARCY BLAKE

Just one year older than Ramsey, had joined Cardiff as a 10-year-old and made his senior bow the previous April. An adaptable defender, was part of the same exciting generation of Welsh talent but struggled to get a real run at Cardiff before leaving for Crystal Palace at the end of his contract in 2012.

Having broken into the Wales squad under Gary Speed, Blake was part of the Eagles side that gained promotion to the Premier League in 2012 but – after a short stint at Newport the following season – turned his back on football after leaving Palace in 2014. Was last known to be playing for a local rugby club in Tredegar.

PAUL PARRY

The man Ramsey replaced in the final moments. The 12-cap Wales international – a winger with a fear of flying – played a key role in Cardiff’s run to the 2008 FA Cup final before leaving for Preston at the end of the following season. Converted into a full-back, he then dropped down to Shrewsbury before retiring aged 33. Set up a youth academy and a property business while was last season serving as an assistant manager at hometown club Chepstow Town in the Welsh third tier.

Aaron Ramsey of Arsenal and Peter Whittingam of Cardiff City
Aaron Ramsey came up against Peter Whittingham while playing for Arsenal

PETER WHITTINGHAM

A true Cardiff City legend, often cited as one of the Championship’s finest players of the modern era. Played in both the FA Cup and League Cup final during his time in south Wales, going on to help Cardiff into the Premier League and ending his time in 2017 with 459 appearances and 98 goals.

Spent a year with Blackburn before leaving after one season, returning to his adopted south Wales home but died in March 2020 aged just 35 after suffering a head injury in a fall. A banner in tribute to the midfielder is displayed at every Cardiff home game while the number seven shirt has been retired in his memory.

STEPHEN McPHAIL

Cultured midfielder was in the first of his seven seasons with the Bluebirds, leading out Cardiff at Wembley in the FA Cup final the following season. Left for Sheffield Wednesday in 2013 before returning to Ireland the following year with Shamrock Rovers. A boyhood Dubliner and a 10-cap international, McPhail retired from playing in 2016 but was appointed the League of Ireland side’s sporting director, a position he still holds.

JOE LEDLEY

A teammate of Ramsey’s on 49 occasions for club and country. Two years his senior, stayed with Cardiff until 2010 before joining Celtic on a free trasnfer, winning three SPL titles in four years before heading to the Premier League with Crystal Palace. Part of the same Wales midfield that reached the semi-finals of Euro 2016 alongside Ramsey, had spells at Derby, Charlton, Newport and in Australia with Newcastle Jets before retiring in 2021. Now runs his own youth academy and is a regular pundit for BBC Wales.

STEVE THOMPSON

A signing from Rangers that January, Thompson played 97 times for Cardiff before joining Burnley in 2008 and helping them to promotion to the Premier League. Headed back to Scotland in 2011 with St Mirren where he stayed until 2016 before working as a pundit on Scottish football, eventually going on to become a regular host of BBC Scotland’s Sportscene

WARREN FEENEY

The Northern Ireland international was making his fifth appearance for Cardiff having joined on loan from Luton the month prior. Went on to sign permanently but suffered a serious knee injury while on a surprise loan at rivals Swansea. After time on loan at Dundee United and Sheffield Wednesday, signed for Oldham and then Plymouth before dropping into non-league with Salisbury.

Took on a player-manager role with Linfield before assisting and then replacing John Sheridan at Newport in 2016. Lasted seven months in the role but remained in management with Ards, Bulgarian side Blagoevgrad and Welling before being appointed Glentoran manager last month.

Aaron Ramsey and Chris Gunter laughing
Chris Gunter (right) retired from international football in March having won 109 caps for Wales

SUBSTITUTES

CHRIS GUNTER

Another future Wales teammate who joined Ramsey off the bench. Room shared with Ramsey when the pair were at north London rivals Tottenham and Arsenal. Lengthy spells at Nottingham Forest and Reading before seeing out his career with Charlton and Wimbledon, retiring aged 33 to take up a coaching post with Wales.

WILLO FLOOD

The third man to come off the bench, the former Manchester City youngster moved on to Celtic, Middlesbrough, Dundee United and Aberdeen. Signed for Dunfermline in 2018 only to cancel his contract a week later to move to Bali FC in the Indian Super League – a move that collapsed because of rules on foreign players. Retired in 2019 to become an agent.

NEIL ALEXANDER

A fan favourite and an unused sub on the day, moved to Ipswich at the end of the season and then Rangers where he played in the 2008 Uefa Cup final. Retired from playing in 2018 to move into coaching, currently goalkeeping coach at Motherwell.

MATT GREEN

Signed from part-time football at Newport, the striker never made it off the bench and never made a start for the Bluebirds. Made 10 moves after Cardiff and was still playing last season with Gloucester City.

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