Paul Ramsey

Former Player Remembers: Paul Ramsey

Former Northern Ireland international Paul Ramsey, who made 322 appearances for Leicester City between 1981 and 1991, recently spoke to Club Historian John Hutchinson about his career in football.

Reflecting on his career, Paul began by explaining how he came to Leicester as a youngster: “I am from Derry and I played for a youth club over there, Derry Athletic. The guy who ran it knew Jock Wallace and a guy called Ray Shaw who had been a coach at Leicester City.

“I came across to Leicester in 1978 because Ray Shaw asked the Derry coach to bring me over. I came across with a few other guys. Frank McLintock was Leicester City’s manager then. I had a spell there and then I was invited back, by which time Jock Wallace was the manager.

"This was the start of something great with Jock. After a year as an apprentice he put me on a professional contract."

This was in April 1980, just as Leicester City were closing in on the old Second Division title. Jock’s side struggled in the top flight the following season and were relegated, but not before Paul had made his debut in March 1981 when he came on as a substitute against Arsenal at Filbert Street.

He continued: “People like Liam Brady and Pat Jennings were playing. They were Irish guys and I loved them. Playing against them was something you dream of. It seemed unreal. I was really thrilled. I was pleased for my family. I came on as a sub in the second half.

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Paul Ramsey

Ramsey's combative nature endeared him to the Blue Army.

"All I had ever wanted, from a young age, was to be a professional footballer. I made my first full debut at Norwich in the last match of the season. We won 3-2 and were already relegated. Jim Melrose got a hat-trick. Norman Leet (a young full back) made his full debut in that game.

"Playing for Norwich that day was Martin O’Neill, who was later a Northern Ireland teammate."

The following season, Paul played 10 more games as Wallace’s Leicester City finished eighth in the old Second Division. The season after (1982/83), when City were promoted back to the top flight under Gordon Milne, Paul was a key member of the side, playing in 40 league games at right full-back.

Paul added: “I loved playing for Gordon Milne. When Jock left he went to my home youth club to do a presentation. I next saw him many years later when I was playing for St Johnstone.

"It was one of the proudest days of my life. We were away at Aberdeen and he was in the tunnel, but I didn’t know this. The trainer came on and said, ‘Penya, (Paul’s nickname) there is someone in the tunnel who wants to see you’. I asked who it was and he said, ‘Come on over’.

"I went into the tunnel and it was big Jock. He hugged me, and I hugged him and he said, ‘Penya, I love you!’ Until the day he died he always asked about my mum and dad. He was terrific. He was always honest with you. He talked me through so many things”.

In the top flight we never achieved what we should have done. There was no sort of consistency. We used to sell players then. We had some fabulous players and we had some great loan players as well.

Paul Ramsey

Paul’s first goal for the Club was at Oldham Athletic in the penultimate match of the season in May 1983. City were undefeated in their last 15 games of the season, and Paul’s goal was vital in Leicester securing their last gasp promotion back to the top flight.

“I remember the goal,” Paul said. “I was at full-back. I passed it to Alan Smith. He kept going and passed it back. There was another one-two in the box and I put it in. I couldn’t believe it. Gerry Daly was playing for us that day. He was a great player. He calmed us down a lot.

"A lot of play went through him and he slowed it down. He had a great touch on the ball. He was playing alongside Kevin MacDonald who had a good head on him."

Early the next season, with Leicester back in the top division, Paul was selected for Northern Ireland for the first of his 14 caps. His first cap was in a 3-1 victory over Austria at Windsor Park.

Martin O’Neill was in the same side. Paul’s selection was due to a snowstorm.

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Paul Ramsey

Ramsey spent a whole decade with the Club.

Paul explained: “On the day we were due to play Coventry, Gordon Milne got a phone call from Northern Ireland manager Billy Bingham who wanted me to join up with the Irish squad because Jimmy Nichol was stuck in a snowstorm in Toronto. He couldn’t get back so Billy Bingham put me in.

"We played against Austria and won 3-1. Hans Krankl (regarded as one of Austria’s greatest players) was playing. (Goalkeeper) Pat Jennings was making his one hundredth appearance. I was playing at full-back.

"Pat said to me ‘Paul, listen. If I call for the ball, don’t touch it. Just leave it. No matter what the score is. Just leave it!’. The ball came back to me. I was feeling confident. Big Pat shouted, ‘Paul! Leave it!’ I just touched it. What a rollocking I got off him! Fair play.

"It taught me a lesson. I learnt so much from him. I played in the World Cup qualifiers and I went to Mexico for the finals in 1986. Unfortunately I didn’t play although I was sub twice."

Mainly playing in midfield, Paul was a regular in Gordon Milne’s side in the old First Division until a bad knee injury in October 1985 sidelined him for several months.

“In the top flight we never achieved what we should have done. There was no sort of consistency. We used to sell players then. We had some fabulous players and we had some great loan players as well.

I thought I’d just try and clip it off the outside of my foot in over his head. It was fabulous. To get the goal of the season was a great achievement. I got a nice shield for it.

Paul Ramsey

"Laurie Cunningham (ex-England and Real Madrid) came in for a bit. He was unbelievable. Gerry Daly was another one. There was Andy Peake and Kevin MacDonald, but we just didn’t quite hit it off. We did have some fabulous results though. We beat Liverpool at Anfield.

"Then we would let ourselves down against the weaker teams. I got on well with Gordon Milne. He was great. One day I had a real stinker of a game, against Sheffield Wednesday at home. I was still a young lad.

"I have never wanted to come off a football field but that day I did. Gordon brought me off. As I came off this fan was giving me a hard time. Gordon said, ‘Paul, don’t worry about it son. It’s not the first bad game you are going to have and it certainly won’t be the last’.

"I came in on the Monday morning and we had 5-a-sides. It lifted our spirits and we just got on with it. He was a jovial character. He would tell stories about when he was in the England team playing Brazil. He got you feeling confident."

Leicester City were relegated in 1987, but in March 1987, Paul scored the supporters’ Goal of the season against Queens Park Rangers.

“It was a clearance. Ali Mauchlen and I were running after it. Ali back-heeled it to me. I saw the keeper off his line. There was a massive gap between him and the goal. There was only one thing I could do.

"I thought I’d just try and clip it off the outside of my foot in over his head. It was fabulous. To get the goal of the season was a great achievement. I got a nice shield for it."

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