Arsenal in Australia: Aaron Ramsey meets Sydney fan who credits him with saving his life - showing him large tattoo of Welsh hero
PUBLISHED: 14:17 11 July 2017 | UPDATED: 14:17 11 July 2017
Arsenal's Aaron Ramsey has met an Australian fan who credits the midfielder with saving his life - proudly showing him the tattoo he had inked his honour.
The Welshman met passionate Gunners fan Rohit Padmanabhan during the club’s pre-season tour of Australia this week – and shared his touching story that could have ended so differently were it not for Ramsey’s football talents.
Arsenal’s arrival in New South Wales at the start of their pre-season tour has made many of the club’s legion of loyal supporters Down Under extremely happy – none more so than Sydneysider Rohit.
But Rohit, 23, had suffered a severe bout of depression that left him in despair in 2014. He went through a rough patch after his long-term partner left him.
He also had to cope with the death of his beloved grandmother, as well as other family problems and admitted depression had hit him hard three years ago.
However, when Ramsey’s last-gasp extra-time winner ended Arsenal’s nine-year trophy drought in the 3-2 win over Hull City during the 2014 FA Cup Final the depression that gripped him suddenly evaporated.
So when Rohit’s hero Ramsey turned up at Sydney’s Kingsford Smith Airport at 5am on Tuesday to greet his heroes when they touched down in Australia he grabbed the chance to speak to him and share his moving story.
Rohit told the Islington Gazette: “When Aaron Ramsey told me to walk with him and tell him a little bit of the story behind the tattoo I couldn’t believe my luck. My emotions were all over the place but luckily I got him to sign his autograph right under my tattoo – and immediately got that as another tattoo as well.
“I told him that he does change lives and that even if he’s vilified by many I think there’s no-one quite as special as him.
“He actually said to me: ‘No-one’s done this before’ and asked me what made me decide to get it.
“He just seemed touched and I was just happy to get my moment with him.”
Meeting his hero – whose actions he acknowledges helped pull him through such a dark time – was a dream come true for Rohit, with Ramsey listening intently to the touching tale.
Rohit added: “I got the first tattoo done last week because I wanted to commemorate the fact that Ramsey was going to be in Sydney.
“I wanted to meet him to let him know the context behind my devotion.
“The great thing was that after we first met at the airport it was he who offered his hand to me and not the other way around.
“I felt privileged.”
Rohit also explained movingly of the moment Ramsey’s 2014 FA Cup Final winner helped shift his depression.
He said: “I felt a surge of unexplainable happiness.
“I felt I could believe in life again and that hope is one of the most marvellous things to grace this earth.
“That’s why I got the tattoo – to remind myself that fate can always have something good in store for you even in the darkest of times.”
Elia Eliopoulou, who is part of the Arsenal Sydney supporters club said of the heartwarming story: “It literally brought us all to tears.
“One Aussie Gooner who found inspiration from an Arsenal player to get him through a tough time and ends up fulfilling his dream to meet him.”
Arsenal play Sydney FC on Thursday in their first game of their pre-season tour to Australia and China.