London: Aaron Ramsey made a tearful farewell to Arsenal after 11 years at the club on Sunday and said he was looking forward to the next phase of his career at Juventus.
The Welshman, whose season ended prematurely after he sustained a hamstring injury last month, is set to join the Italian champions in the close season after signing a four-year deal in February.
Ramsey, who is the club’s highest scoring central midfielder with 64 goals, was given a guard of honour by his teammates and presented with a memento after Arsenal’s 1-1 draw with Brighton at the Emirates Stadium.
“Obviously it’s very emotional, it’s been a hell of a journey,” the 28-year-old told Sky Sports. “Eleven years of my life, so much has happened in that, when I look back. You can tell by my voice how much it means to me.
“I’m really excited for the new challenge and new chapter in my life [at Juventus] but today it’s all about this.
“This is where I grew up. I just want to take this in today and let it settle in for a few more days before I can really look forward and concentrate on that.
“I’m going to club that’s playing in the Champions League, and playing with [Cristiano] Ronaldo. And that’s going to really sink in now, so I can get my head around that in the next few weeks and really look forward to that challenge.”
Goalkeeper Petr Cech, who is retiring at the end of the season and was also honoured by Arsenal, said Ramsey’s departure was a big loss for the London club.
“I think when he came from Cardiff nobody really knew how great a player the club brought in and I think he gave everything he could all those 11 years,” Cech said.
Arsenal also confirmed the departure of striker Danny Welbeck. The Englishman, signed from Manchester United in 2014, has not played since he had an ankle surgery in November and his contract expires at the end of the season.
“I spoke with the club about this situation,” manager Unai Emery said. “The decision is he is going to leave.”