Aaron Ramsey says that the Wales squad are in great shape for the upcoming European Championships, and that the togetherness is being fostered by some ribald messaging via WhatsApp.
This is the first time Wales have qualified for a major international tournament since 1958, and with quality like Ramsey, Gareth Bale, Ashley Williams and Christ Gunter in the squad, they have high hopes for France this summer.
Preparations have already begun, and the Arsenal midfielder says the fact that they’re super best friends is playing a part.
“We’re a good group of lads, we all understand our roles and responsibilities on the pitch but also we enjoy each others company; we’re quite a closely knit group,” he said.
“We’re on a WhatsApp group, the banter is flying on it.”
Asked to expand on that, he continued, “Just the other day there was a message from Joe Allen taking the mickey out of one of the other guys about his haircut.
“As quick as you like I went on WhatsApp and said ‘It’s a bit much for you to criticise somebody’s haircut when you have a beard which is like having a haircut on your face.
“And before he could reply I then said ‘And I know I also have a beard so I think that’s check-mate, Joe!’. I showed it to Williamsy and we both laughed out loud and also put in the crying with laughter emoji in another message.
“Not long after that, we saw Gareth Bale in the shower and because he’s living in Spain he’s got a tan because the climate in Spain is much more favourable than it is in England or indeed Wales. They have many more days of sunshine than we do, that’s the natural order of things and I suppose that’s why so many people from the United Kingdom go on holidays there.
“So when he was in the shower we saw that he had tan-lines and I thought of something really funny and I said it to Joe Ledley and he burst out laughing and said ‘You have to say that’ and I said ‘Maybe it’s a bit mean’ but he said ‘No it’s not’ so I did it and sent a WhatsApp which said ‘Gareth, you have a big white arse’, and now everybody calls him ‘WhiteArse’, which is hilarious.”
But as well as being the dispenser of banter, Ramsey is happy to be the recipient too.
“It wouldn’t be fair if I was the only one zinging them with hot burns,” he said, “so I have to take my fair share.
“After I said to Hal Robson-Kanu ‘How’s your Dad, Nwanko?’ because it’s the same name as Kanu who played for Arsenal so there’s an ever so nice Arsenal connection there for me, he replied ‘I’m gonna stick your face on a George Foreman grill you dull c*nt’.
“I almost wet myself with the laughter but I didn’t really it’s just a saying to get across that I found it really, really funny.
“I mean, George Foreman doesn’t do grills, he plays that tiny guitar thing.”