DAVE KITSON witnessed Aaron Ramsey’s horrific leg break first hand.
Kitson was a sub for Stoke’s game against Arsenal in February 2010 during which the Gunners midfielder had his right leg shattered in a challenge with Ryan Shawcross.
Here, SunSport’s new columnist reveals the untold story behind one of the most shocking moments in football…
News Group Newspapers Ltd11 Ryan Shawcross broke Aaron Ramsey's leg following a challenge in 2010
I WAS there when Ryan Shawcross snapped Aaron Ramsey’s leg in half.
I heard the crack of Ramsey’s leg from the bench. I heard the screaming.
And the build-up to the game contributed to this moment.
Stoke manager Tony Pulis absolutely despised Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger, hated the way he played.
News Group Newspapers Ltd11 Tony Pulis had told the Stoke players to be aggressive in the tackle
Rex Features11 Tony Pulis and Arsene Wenger hated each other and each other's style of football
While Wenger hated the way Stoke played. They were the direct opposite of each other in football terms.
They used to have little snipes at each other in the media.
All week I had never seen a manager so desperate to win a game of football, it was bordering on out of control.
In training, I remember doing the set-piece routine from corners.
PA:Press Association11 Shawcross walks off in tears as he receives a red card
Action Images – Reuters11 Tony Pulis had attempted to instil an aggressive manor in his side ahead of the game with Arsenal
Shawcross and Abdoulaye Faye were preparing to play as central defenders, one of them would go across the near post. And I just remember us practising it over and over again, the corner coming in and Pulis screaming: “Ryan go across the f****** front — if you miss the ball you f****** well make sure you take someone out.
“You put the keeper through the net and into the stand behind. If you miss the ball you make sure you take someone with you.”
Like every other game he was telling us to turn them and get at them and all the usual stuff managers say.
But that particular game it was very much ‘lads, don’t forget, be aggressive in the tackle, dominate your man.’ That was the message.
It started that sort of feeling where it began to bubble within the players through the course of the week.
Until finally it got to match day. The changing room was full of aggression and I remember the team talk more than anything.
AP:Associated Press11 Dave Kitson revealed all in his explosive new column for SunSport
News Group Newspapers Ltd11 Kitson revealed how the changing room was full of aggression before the game
I remember Pulis pacing up and down shouting random things — this bundle of nervous energy blurting random swear words, trying to burn off his own nervous energy.
And, of course, the upshot of all of that energy was that we went over the top and it cost Ramsey a year of his career.
It seemed to me that was as a direct result of players reacting to their manager’s over enthusiasm and buying into that whole thing and carrying out his instructions and crossing the line.
And injuring players. Teams are a direct reflection of their manager. Without exception. We never sat in the dressing room and said ‘we are going to injure that player.’
It’s more ‘don’t give them time, get in their faces, if the ball is there to be won go and f****** win it’.
The one we knew we could get under the skin of was Cesc Fabregas, but he was quite good at giving it back as well.
Getty – Contributor11 Tony Pulis and Wenger had contrasting styles of football on the pitch
It was just anyone in an Arsenal shirt, if you were near them you would let them know you were there.
You could just see it in the tunnel that they didn’t want to be there.
We would come out of the changing room first so they would come and line up next to us and we were all north of six foot. You could just see them shrinking in the tunnel before you and Pulis really really played on that.
But it just went too far. His desperation to beat Wenger and justify his way of playing football. It crossed the line and went too far.
He was just desperate to win and some of the tackles we would put in — myself included because it was asked of you — were shocking really.
But as aggressive as we were, the first person on the scene with Ramsey was our midfielder Glenn Whelan, who held his hand for the whole time.
Ian Whittaker – The Sun11 Kitson will be more exclusive and explosive content to The Sun
I remember looking at a picture of it afterwards and you think, ‘there’s something not quite right about this picture’.
It takes a few seconds to figure it out. Ramsey's leg was pointing towards the away fans. His body was facing me on the bench but his leg was at a right angle.
It was just horrendous. I distinctly remember Wenger turning around in the technical area absolutely horrified by it.
The first person he looked at when he turned around was me on the bench because I was in line with him.
Even though it wasn’t me who broke his leg, I was on that bench, part of that team.
Wenger gave me this look of complete and utter disappointment — the kind of look your dad gives you when you’ve f***** up, when he’s gone beyond anger.
News Group Newspapers Ltd11 The players on the field realise the extent of Ramsey's injury
It was as if he was saying to me ‘I’m surprised that you would be a part of this’.
That’s how I felt. I didn’t know where to look, I was totally embarrassed.
Prior to that happening I was probably quite a tough footballer and a tough man. But, in that split second, Wenger gave me that look and I lost something inside of me.
I thought there is more to life than this. This was not the reason I became a footballer and I really didn’t want to be included in this or put my name to this.
In that moment, I thought ‘I don’t want to be here, I don’t want to play like this and I don’t want to be a part of it’.
I carried on for a bit after that but I just lost my stomach for it in the end. I would rather not be a footballer at all than have to play that way.
It was always Tony’s way or the highway. If you didn’t do it, you didn’t play and you didn’t train with the first team.
News Group Newspapers Ltd11 Dave Kitson revealed how captain Andy Griffin was ruthlessly shunned from the first-team
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