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"I wish I had Tis when I was 16, 17 or 18, when I had the physical capability to be a good player"

Former City defender, Christian Ribeiro, discusses some of his First, Best and Worst moments

14 March 2018

Christian Ribeiro joined City in 2014 and spent two years at the club before leaving for Oxford United.

The defender, who was forced to retire early due to persistent injury problems, turned himself into a fans favourite at St James Park for his impressive displays.

The former Wales player thoroughly enjoyed his time in Devon and he spoke to Ben Strange to recall some of his First, Best and Worst moments throughout his career.

First...

... day at City

When I first arrived, I came on a trial period. I vividly remember it being roasting hot and I knew a couple of the other players such as, Danny Coles and Craig Woodman. I was there for pre-season training, so I remember it being a hard slog out there in the hot Exeter sun, lovely green pitches in July 2014. I was nervous, I remember being in the canteen area and being a new player it’s a bit awkward. I remember meeting a few of the younger players, it’s part of football, having to go into new cultures and new groups. Thankfully everyone was very friendly and very open.

... time you met Tis

I met Tis years ago when I was at Bristol City and we used to play against Exeter in the reserves a lot. I nearly came on loan lots of times. We said hello to each other a few times at games, but we never had a full conversation until I came on trial, that’s when our relationship started.

... international appearance

The very first time I played for Wales was at under-17 level and I think it was away against Ukraine. I was still in school as a 16-year-old playing a year up. I managed to play throughout the under-17s, 19s, and 21s as well as a couple of first team games. My first team debut was coming off the bench against Croatia and I had to mark Luka Modric.

Best...

... moment in a City shirt

There were a lot of victories that I enjoyed, like the derby matches against Plymouth and, of course, the Liverpool result at home. The most exciting game I was involved in was Luton Town away when we won 3-2. That was a fantastic game, one of the most enjoyable in my career. The way it panned out where we played so well all game and we found ourselves 2-0 down and to win 3-2. At the time, we were chasing the play-offs so that game meant something, we didn’t get there in the end, but that game got us within a few points of the play-offs, so it was a really exciting period. That one sticks out because it was a little bit against the grain.

... player you played with

I was lucky enough to play international football with the likes of Aaron Ramsey and Gareth Bale. They were exceptional, along with the likes of Joe Allen. At club level at Bristol City, the likes of Paul Hartley who was a centre midfielder who played for Scotland and Celtic. He was tremendous, and I played with him whilst he was at the end of his career. Steven Caulker, when he was coming through, was excellent I thought he was going to be the next Rio Ferdinand, I know it hasn’t quite panned out that way for him, but he was fantastic. The interesting thing about City is that there is such an interesting mix of players, like Matt Oakley and Danny Butterfield, who had fantastic ability and higher-level skill sets than some of the other guys, but they were at the end of their careers, so they lacked in the mobility side of things. When I came, Matt Grimes was playing very well at the time, he had a lot of ability. Ollie Watkins showed some fantastic ability as well as Jordan Moore-Taylor. Those are a few that stand out, there’s many more like Ryan Harley and David Wheeler, I always found that Exeter had a high standard of skillsets.

... coach you worked under

A few in the more recent years, such as Tis. He was fantastic, and I learned so much from him, even though my body was breaking down and I wasn’t quite the player I was, I still learned so much. I wish I had Tis when I was 16, 17 or 18, when I had the physical capability to be a good player. I had the tools to be a really top player, but I didn’t get the coaching at a young age. Michael Appleton was a brilliant manager, really demanding and high intensity, there was a fantastic coaching set-up at Oxford. The last manager I had, Pep Clotet, was very tactical and similar to Tis in that aspect. The last three managers I had were all very good, it was the ones before that didn’t do so well.

Worst...

... defeat you've been involved in

One that springs to mind was when I was playing for Bristol City reserves and we lost to Salisbury Town, that might be the lowest I’d felt. In terms of a competitive match I’ve lost a number of cup games to lower league opposition, at Exeter, Bristol City and Oxford. To be honest, I’ve never lost by more than three goals I don’t think, which isn’t too bad. There’s one match I remember against Doncaster Rovers for Scunthorpe United and I think we lost 3-0 that day, and I scored an own goal!

... moment in your career

Injury. When I injured my knee at 18 it ruined my career. From then on I had a multitude of injuries. I never recovered fully, and I also deteriorated as my knee got worse over time. It meant I wasn’t able to achieve the level that I thought I could.

... decision that's gone against you

I have to say, the officiating at League One and Two level isn’t the greatest. I haven’t given away many penalties, apart from one at Exeter. There was one for Wales as well which was soft where I’ve nudged a player and they got one. Generally, I remember the frustration of throw-ins being awarded to the opposition and little fouls. You don’t get the rub of the green often in the lower leagues.


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