Arsenal goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale said he was still coming to terms with his wife’s miscarriage as he was assaulted after Arsenal’s North London derby win at Tottenham last season.
The England international has revealed he was already dealing with pain in his private life before the incident at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium - after his wife suffered a miscarriage while they were on a six-hour flight back to London after the World Cup.
“There are things that go on in our lives that the public has no idea about, and the past year has been an emotional rollercoaster for me and my family,” he wrote for The Players’ Tribune.
“After the high of climbing to the top of the Premier League table and going off to my first World Cup, my wife and I found out that we were expecting our first child.
“Mikel (Arteta) gave me a few extra days off after the World Cup, so we went on a brief holiday. It was genuinely the happiest time of our lives. And yeah … there’s no easy way to say this, but I feel like it’s important that people know.
“On the flight home, my wife had a miscarriage. There’s really no way that I can describe the pain of that six-hour flight back to London, even now.
"I just want people out there to know that they’re not alone if they’re going through it themselves.”
Arteta offered Ramsdale additional time off – “in the middle of the title race, with so much pressure on the club… for me, that’s a manager” – but he opted to play on.
“Three days later, we were playing Spurs in the derby, and for me that was the only way to get my mind off things. Football has always been my escape. I told the manager I wanted to play,” he added.
“It couldn’t have been a better night. We won 2–0 under the floodlights, and our away fans were going absolutely ballistic. If you watch the match back, you can see me beaming at the final kick of the ball. I went to get my water bottle behind the goal, and never in a million years would I ever think that I’d get kicked in the back by a Tottenham fan.
“I’ve had some very spicy banter with fans all over the English leagues. I’ve been called everything you can imagine. But it’s never crossed the line like that.
"I remember when I got back to the dressing room, I couldn’t even celebrate because I got pulled out to give a police statement.
“You know, I almost felt bad for the bloke who had done it, because I thought to myself: If he only knew me as a person, and what I’m actually going through right now, there’s no way that he would’ve done that. If we bumped into each other one day and got chatting about football, we’d probably be mates.”
On January 15, as the 25-year-old collected his water bottle from behind the goal, Spurs fan Joseph Watts leapt onto the advertising hoarding and aimed a boot at his back.
Watts was given a four-year banning order having been charged with assault and throwing a missile onto the pitch.
Speaking immediately after the game, Ramsdale told Sky Sports: “It’s a shame because it’s just a game of football at the end of the day. I think both sets of players tried to bring me away.
"Thankfully nothing actually happened too drastic. It’s a sour taste.”
Ramsdale, whose wife is expecting again, has also shared details of the challenges faced by his brother, who is gay, and wants to see football become a sport that is a “welcoming place for everyone”.
“I want my brother, Ollie — or anyone of any sexuality, race or religion — to come to games without having to fear abuse,” he wrote. “And when we lift a trophy at the Emirates Stadium, I want my brother there with me.”
The Gaygooners group of LGBT+ Arsenal fans welcomed the support of Ramsdale, who signed off his letter with “Love you, bro”.
“We’re so very proud to have @aaronramsdale98 as a true ally and for being so brave to talk about such important issues,” Gaygooners wrote on Twitter.
“We can’t wait to be cheering you on this season Aaron!”
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