For Aaron Ramsey, there’s truly no place like home.

Considering his surroundings at Cardiff City’s training center – a base the team shares with the Wales national team – he appears a relaxed figure and eager to play again after years that were more difficult than he would have liked.

“It feels amazing,” he told Sky Sports after winning the Sky Bet Championship Goal of the Month award for August for his strike against Leicester City, the 32-year-old’s first goal in 12 years at his boyhood club.

“When I had the opportunity to go back to where it all started, and be with my family and friends, I was so excited. The timing was perfect and I am loving every minute of it.

“When I knew there was a possibility of moving back here, I did everything I could to make it possible. I’m 20 minutes away, not too far from where I grew up. It’s nice to be back.

“I think just being away from my family had a big impact. When I was in Scotland and France, they stayed here, and that was very difficult for me.”

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Watch Aaron Ramsey score this stunning goal for Cardiff against Leicester, his first goal since returning to the club.

After leaving Arsenal in 2019, Ramsey headed to Juventus. However, during his three years there, he only managed to make 25 Serie A appearances and scored five goals.

Injuries were an issue, as they often were during his career. But he has no regrets.

“Obviously staying fit has been an issue at times, and things like injuries have meant I haven’t really been able to achieve any consistency,” he says.

August 14, 2021, Turin, United Kingdom: Turin, Italy, August 14, 2021. Juventus' Aaron Ramsey during the pre-season friendly match at Allianz Stadium, Turin.  Photo credit should read: Jonathan Moscob/Sportimage
Ramsey spent three years at Juventus

He added, “But in general, I am proud of what I achieved there and grateful for the experience of playing for one of the European powers. I won everything I could.”

“Enjoying Italian culture was a great experience for me and my family.”

Last season he tried his luck in France with Nice. Once again, however, injuries restricted him to just 18 Ligue 1 appearances.

“It was a good experience for me, and a good opportunity to play in Europe,” he says. “There were a few other Brits there too. They were great with me there. I can’t blame them for anything. I was grateful for the opportunity to play there.”

Aaron Ramsey is among the players brought by Sir Jim Ratcliffe to Nice this season
Aaron Ramsey played for Nice in France last season

Ramsey has made a good start to the tournament. He has scored twice so far in his five matches, and has been impressed by the quality of the league and how much it has improved since he last played in 2011.

“A lot of teams try to play from the back, whereas it was more direct when I was here last time,” he says.

“Obviously the quality has become much stronger, and the teams that have been relegated are very strong. It’s an exciting league.

“There are still some games that will be a little physical and direct. We have to be able to be out there and stand up to whatever is in front of us.”

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Sky Sports duo David Broughton and Simeon Gholam review the start of the Championship campaign and pick their 2023/24 team so far…

Meanwhile, the next game will be the biggest ever for Cardiff. They face South Wales rivals Swansea at home on Saturday evening – live on Sky Sports Football from 7.30pm.

Ramsay has tasted this match before. Back in February 2011, while returning on loan to the club from Arsenal, he assisted on Craig Bellamy’s winning goal in a 1-0 win at enemy soil.

“It was a great day for us, we played the way we played and won the game,” he recalls. “These are great occasions to be a part of. Winning makes them even more special.”

This is Ramsey’s first taste of competition at home. More importantly, a match that was once evenly balanced has leaned heavily towards Swansea in recent times.

For almost 100 years until 2021, neither side has managed to pull off the double over the other in a single season. Since then, Swansea have won four consecutive titles.

Aaron Ramsey playing for Cardiff City in 2011.
Aaron Ramsey playing for Cardiff City in 2011.

Ramsay is determined to correct this.

“Everything was set up well,” he says. He added: “For us, to win would be huge for us and for the fans, because it has been a difficult few years.

“It hasn’t been good enough for a long time and we owe it to them to put in a good performance. It’s up to us to come up with a result.”

What comes after the derby result? Ramsay has one or two other obvious ambitions…

“The Premier League is the best in the world and I have certainly missed it in the last few years,” he says.

“I want to try and help get Cardiff back into the Premier League. The club has tasted that many times, and that’s where we aspire to be again.”

“There’s a lot of excitement around the club. I don’t think we’re too far off, we just need to get a bit of consistency.”

And if they get there, he wouldn’t mind returning to lead his Arsenal team. Or perhaps even earlier if the draw is made in the FA Cup, a competition he has won three times with Arsenal, scoring the winning goal in the final in 2014 and 2017.

“That would be nice!” He says. “Weird things like this can happen. Who knows, maybe we’ll get to it in the third round.”

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