Ramsdale's reaction to receiving first England cap shows why international football is so special

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There were emotional scenes in the England camp on Monday as the Three Lions qualified for the 2022 World Cup, especially for Aaron Ramsdale after the Arsenal goalkeeper made his international debut to cap off (pun shamefully intended) what has been an excellent start to the season for him.

Ramsdale replaced Jordan Pickford and played the full game as Gareth Southgate's side made mincemeat of San Marino in their final qualifier, and kept one of the most straightforward clean sheets of his career as England hit double figures, winning 10-0 in Serravalle to officially seal their place in Qatar next year (stream the replay on ESPN+ in the U.S.).

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It marked a triumphant night for Arsenal's young set, with Bukayo Saka scoring the 10th goal of the evening (and his fourth for his country) and Emile Smith Rowe notching on his first England start.

As a debutant, Ramsdale was formally presented with his very first cap on the pitch after the game, at which point the 23-year-old was visibly flustered for the first time that evening.

"Mad, innit," he said as he held the red embroidered cap traditionally given to all England players by the Football Association. "Finally!"

Ramsdale became the 1,265th player to be capped by England as his nearest and dearest watched on proudly from the stands.

"It's special," he added. "It's been a long time coming. I've been dreaming of this day for a long time."

The 23-year-old then thanked the England defence for the shutout, and even joked that his friends wanted to see him get on the scoresheet against Europe's lowest-ranked team.

"I've got to thank the boys [for the clean sheet]," he said. "They played well in front of me. My boys [back home] texted me... they said 'any chance for a goal?'

"My family were here as well. I think I saw tears when the national anthem was on. '1,265' ... It's a special number now."

Ramsdale was selected as part of England's Euro 2020 squad while still at Sheffield United last season but didn't feature at the tournament. He has since moved on to Arsenal and continued to receive regular call-ups under Southgate, though it took many months for him to finally make his international bow.

"It's been a long time coming. I've been dreaming of this day for a long time," he said.

Ramsdale has already become a popular figure since making his big move to the Emirates over the summer, quickly muscling in as coach Mikel Arteta's first choice between the sticks. The young keeper has made 11 appearances in all competitions so far this season, keeping seven clean sheets and winning the Gunners' Player of the Month award for October.

As well as covering the basics, Ramsdale has delighted fans with a string of exceptional reflex saves, including a stunning fingertip effort to thwart James Maddison during last month's 2-0 win at Leicester City, which former Manchester United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel declared: "Best save I've seen for years."

And it's not just Ramsdale's footballing performances that are earning him widespread popularity. During the Leicester game, he joined in with the home fans' chants designed to put him off as he was taking goal kicks, and after the game he went over to the travelling fans to give away not only his jersey but also his boots.

It's something he's making a habit of. After the 1-0 win at Burnley in September, he made another young fan's day by handing over his shirt, and the reaction was priceless.

"The kids just keep coming with more signs and signs and it's hard to say no to them so boots and shirt gone," he told BT Sport.

It's incredible to think that three years ago Ramsdale was playing for Chesterfield in League Two and that just two years ago he was plugging away at AFC Wimbledon in League One.

The word that tends to be used to describe that kind of rise is "meteoric," and given that Ramsdale's star has never been higher, it certainly feels more than appropriate to wheel it out again here.