Aaron Ramsey using Arsenal banter as motivation for Wales

Arsenal's Aaron Ramsey takes on Wales team-mate Neil Taylor in Swansea's 1-0 win at the Emirates
Arsenal's Aaron Ramsey takes on Wales team-mate Neil Taylor in Swansea's 1-0 win at the Emirates

Aaron Ramsey says he is using banter from his Arsenal team-mates as motivation to help Wales qualify for Euro 2016.

Wales are currently second in their qualifying group but last reached the finals of a major tournament in 1958.

Ramsey admits his country's poor record has led to stick from some team-mates.

"It [the banter] gives me more determination to try and hopefully achieve that [qualification]," said Ramsey.

"A lot of our [Arsenal] players have experienced that [playing at a major finals] and have gone on to win their championships as well and World Cups, so there's always been a bit of banter between them and me.

"Hopefully now we [Wales] can put in a good performance and put ourselves in a great position and qualify."

Millennium moan

Wales are second in Group B, level on points with leaders Belgium who they host at the Cardiff City Stadium on 12 June.

Given the interest in the match there was talk of Wales potentially switching it to the 74,000-capacity Millennium stadium.

But Ramsey, 24, is glad it will be played at the 33,000-seat venue in a front of a sell-out crowd.

Millennium Stadium
Wales drew a crowd in excess of 73,000 at the Millennium Stadium for a game against Finland in 2003.

"I'm very happy playing at Cardiff. That's what we have been used to of late," said Ramsey.

"If we were at the Millennium Stadium it feels empty with the amount of fans that we were getting. So it's a sell out and it will be a great atmosphere there.

"The pitch is really good at Cardiff so there's no complaints there, whereas the Millennium did tend to cut up a lot and it was a bit bobbly as well.

"But we've got none of those issues at Cardiff and the players are really comfortable playing there.

"The way we play, we get the ball down and play, so we want the ball running true and fast and we weren't quite getting that at the Millennium Stadium, so Cardiff is quite a good pitch on which we can get the ball down and play."

Ramsey last played at the Millennium Stadium in March 2011, when Wales lost 2-0 to England in a Euro 2012 qualifier.

Since then the Welsh Rugby Union - which owns the national stadium - has installed a new playing surface, adding a Desso Sports Systems pitch in 2014 which intertwines grass turf with millions of artificial fibres.

Stadia including Wembley Stadium, Manchester United's Old Trafford, Arsenal's Emirates Stadium where Ramsey plays his club football, Swansea's Liberty Stadium and Wales' current preferred venue at Cardiff City Stadium all have the same surface installed.

Bale backing

Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale is set to win his 50th cap for Wales against Belgium.

The former Tottenham winger has come under criticism for his recent performances for the Spanish giants, but Ramsey does not expect Bale's trouble in Spain to affect his Wales form.

Aaron Ramsey and Gareth Bale
Aaron Ramsey (L) scored one goal and Gareth Bale (R) scroed twice in the 3-0 win against Israel

"He's done fantastically well to do that [win 50 caps]," said Ramsey.

"That's some achievement to do that especially at his age and the fact that we don't go to tournaments as well.

"I think he [Bale] enjoys coming away with Wales and you can see his attitude when he does come away.

"He enjoys being back in Wales. He's a top professional and you can see his quality that he's shown even against Israel where he's come and scored two goals.

"So I'm sure whatever's going on over there will be put to the back of his mind and he'll be fully concentrating on the Welsh game."

Ramsey's concentration for now will be firmly focused on Arsenal.

The Gunners are looking to finish the Premier League strongly before bidding to retain the FA Cup, taking on Aston Villa in the final on 30 May.

"Obviously I've just got to concentrate on Arsenal at the moment and finish off the season now strongly and hopefully go on to win the FA Cup but it will be a tough game.

"Then [I will] put my full concentration in trying to get a result for Wales."

Top Stories