Exclusive: Ramsey horror brings memories flooding back for ex-Arsenal star

Aaron Ramsey s shocking leg break at Stoke last Saturday evening brought back some unwelcome memories for Arsenal legend Don Howe. It was 44 years ago tomorrow – March 5, 1966 – when the blond-haired fullback flew into a tackle with Blackpool goalkeeper T

Aaron Ramsey's shocking leg break at Stoke last Saturday evening brought back some unwelcome memories for Arsenal legend Don Howe.

It was 44 years ago tomorrow - March 5, 1966 - when the blond-haired fullback flew into a tackle with Blackpool goalkeeper Tony Waiters.

"I remember it well, the challenge was committed. Two players going for the ball. He was a big, strong lad was Tony," Don recalls to Ham&High Sport. "I think his head actually collided with my leg, he just threw himself at my feet."

The result changed his life.


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Howe's right leg was left shattered, much like the young Welshman's at the Britannia Stadium.

"I felt no pain," he says. "The body kind of looks after you initially, naturally anaesthetising itself.

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"Bertie Mee was the physiotherapist at the time. He ran over to me and began massaging my leg. He told me I was fine. He actually said 'Don, there's no problem'.

"Then I had to tell him he was looking at the wrong leg. I'd put my good one over the broken one to protect it.

"Then he looked down and saw the tibia sticking out of my sock."

Gentle applause rippled around Highbury from the sparse 21,881 crowd as Howe was stretchered off, few realising the extent of the popular England defender's injury. He would never play there again.

"The surgeon seemed quite confident. He told me he treated lots of injuries on people who went on skiing holidays," says Howe, who later coached and managed the Gunners.

"He said to me that I would feel quite mobile very quickly. As strange as it may seem, after such a serious injury, I was back on my feet within days. Even putting my weight on it."

Over the summer he watched as England won the World Cup - even throwing his crutches in the air at Wembley as friends became World champions - and was optimistic about the new season ahead.

He made his comeback in a 1-1 draw at Manchester City the following September, but it proved a fruitless exercise.

"It was not worth it. I wasn't in pain, but I simply couldn't do what I could do before the injury," he admits.

"The leg did not have much power. I wasn't the player I was so I had to pack it in. I've still got eight screws in my leg as a legacy of that day." Howe, though, does not expect the same sorry outcome for Arsenal's latest casualty Ramsey

"No way, our young lad will play again. I was 31 at the time but Ramsey is only a teenager - 19 years of age - and will recover from this, I've no doubt," he says.

"They will probably have done similar things to what the medics did to me back in '66. But his muscles will grow stronger and protect the bones, he'll heal well, and he will have the finest treatment available. Technology has moved on.

"His age is a major plus, at that age your body just recovers much quicker."

As for his view on the tackle that could have put Ramsey out of the game for the rest of 2010, Howe believes there was no malice from Ryan Shawcross.

"When I broke my leg I didn't even look at the goalkeeper, and he didn't look at me.

"We were just two committed men trying to win the ball - I believe it was the same between Ramsey and Shawcross.

"It was two players going for it, two players trying to win the ball and they made contact. Unfortunately for our boy, he came out of it badly. But it could have been the other way around..."

And Howe has some words of comfort for Ramsey - along with some typical pragmatism.

"You'll play again, I'd tell him. But it is not a short journey. People are saying he could be back in six to nine months.

"But I believe a year to 14 months is more realistic. Let's not rush him back, let's make sure he is right both physically and then mentally.

"He is not the only player to break his leg. You'd be surprised how many have - just go into a dressing room and ask. But they always come back and play again.

"He has to regain his confidence, but I am sure he will in time. He should just rest now, because one day he'll be back.

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