One of Namibia's top football exports, acrobatic goalkeeper Virgil Vries, says his gloomy days at South African giants Kaizer Chiefs are over and for the first time in a long time, he is again a confident and happy man at new club Swallows FC.
Speaking to New Era Sport, Vries admitted that moving from Chiefs in that country's top tier league the Premier Soccer League (PSL) to first division high-flyers Swallows, turned out to be the boost his career needed. Swallows campaigns in the South African GladAfrica Championship, formerly known as the National First Division (NFD).
While many were of the opinion that Vries leaving Chiefs for Swallows was a massive step back for his career, the 31-year old Namibian shot-stopper maintains that joining Swallows was a blessing in disguise as it accorded him another opportunity to refocus, strategise and learn from his previous mistakes.
Away from the constant pressure from fans and the endless media bashing he experienced while still with Chiefs, Vries managed to re-establish himself first choice goalie for Swallows and undoubtedly one of the most consistent goalkeepers in the GladAfrica Championship.
"The reason I say it was an opportunity for me [joining Swallows] is because I was given another chance to learn from my previous mistakes and do much better. Remaining calm and reflecting on my past has helped me a lot here at Swallows and I hope to continue improving and help the club achieve all its goals," said Vries, who had an error-ridden stint with Chiefs between July 2018 and March 2019.
Since joining the Dube Birds, as Swallows is popularly known, Vries went on to claim several Man of the Match accolades with his heroics between the sticks, to mark an awe-inspiring resurgence of form and character.
"Yes, my confidence is back but I don't like saying so because there is always room for improvement and I don't want to get comfortable. After all the lessons I learnt at Chiefs, I'm now looking forward to a much better future for me and Swallows as we want to achieve great things. I'm more mature now and my thinking is obviously not the same as I was at Chiefs, so I want to use all that positivity for the betterment of myself and the team."
On how he managed to weather the heavy storm of negativity that pursued him during and after his time at Chiefs, Vries said unwavering support from his family and close friends and associates kept him upbeat and going throughout the difficult period.
Looking to the future and his long-term plans with Swallows, Vries said: "I would love to have a long and fruitful stay here with Swallows, I love it here and the environment is mazing and everyone is pushing and pulling one direction. I have loved it here since day one and my welcome at the club was amazing, I feel appreciated and loved by the supporters. They really cheer me on and always singing my name during matches and put a smile on my face. Every player wants to be appreciated and loved." -firstname.lastname@example.org