Aaron Ramsey confessed he was a bit “starstruck” by the presence of high-profile names when he joined Arsenal from Cardiff City at the tender age of 17.
Ramsey joined the likes of Robin van Persie, Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas in north London in 2008 as a promising youngster who had yet to prove himself at the highest level.
Having overcome feelings of disbelief upon meeting such esteemed players, the Wales international feels a lot has changed over the past eight years.
“As soon as I came in on the first day I was a bit starstruck with all the faces there, some of the biggest players in world football,” Ramsey told the club’s official website.
“I am sure they were all thinking, ‘Who is this guy coming in?’ and it was nerve-wracking going around and introducing yourself, meeting some of the top players in the Premier League.
“It was a bit surreal and I had to pinch myself, but they made me feel welcome straight away and made me feel like they were no different [to anyone else].
“I think I am a bit louder now than I was then. You understand how things go on and off the pitch a bit better.
“It only seems like the other day that I was signing for Arsenal, but there have been eight years in between, so it goes before you notice really.
“I left home as a 17-year-old to live on my own and it was quite tough, but I have grown up a lot since then. I suppose football has helped with that and I have started a young family now, so much has happened in those eight years.”