Ricky Gomes Q&A: profile of Arbroath’s Portu-goalie

Ricky Gomes with defensive stalwart Ricky Little. Pic by Graham Black.
Ricky Gomes with defensive stalwart Ricky Little. Pic by Graham Black.

Arbroath goalkeeper Ricky Gomes was kind enough to speak to HeraldSport all the way from Portugal last week as we put together a profile of Gayfield’s Iberian stopper.

Ricky, how did it feel to win the League Two title with Arbroath?

It was a massive feeling, really. I think the way we’ve done it, the whole season. There were a few times where we got close to going top but then it felt like it was slipping away again.

The group was amazing, we were always willing to fight our way back into it. Once we saw that helicopter coming our way, that feeling was just immense. The fans were incredible and it was a great feeling, what an atmosphere. It’s the first time at senior level I’ve won a title.

Do the circumstances of the win make the championship even sweeter?

I think it feels even better winning it on the last day and having been so far behind. We felt we were the better team for the majority of the season. There were times when we were getting closer then we dropped behind when we lost to them at home.

Getting back into it the way we did and winning it like that, it’d be hard to top it - I think it was the best way to win it.

You were born in Canada, have Portuguese parents and used to play for Porto – how on Earth did you end up at Gayfield?

My fiancee is from Scotland and I decided to move over here to see what happens, and it’s worked out pretty well from there. My fiancee lived in Lisbon while I was playing there; that’s how we met. Last season, I played for Atletico Malveira but got injured.

I got in touch with someone from Arbroath and the gaffer spoke to me and told me if I liked it, I’d get a chance with the club.

I didn’t think too much about it. I just came in and,in a new country, I wanted to prove myself in the game.

What were your first impressions of Scottish football?

You have a stereotype in your mind of going to Scotland and guys kicking the ball up all the time, and it’s not as bad for that as people say.

Obviously, football is very different and conditions make you change the style you play. That’s a big part in Scotland, especially in the winter and especially up at Arbroath, with the windy days.

You saw the helicopter bringing the trophy to us. At other countries at this level, you don’t have that.

How does Dick Campbell compare to your previous managers?

When I was first signing, everyone I told about it would know who Dick is, because he’s been in the game for so long.

They told me I’d really like playing for him, he’s an old school guy who knows the game, and it was a lot like that.

His man management is second to none, really, and the way the season went is proof of that. We could’ve given up at any stage but the man management all season, how he took care of the players, it was just spot on and that’s a huge part of the game.

A lot of managers overlook it, they over-coach and nitpick at other things, whereas Dick knows that, with a team with the right spirit, he can get them to the next level. That’s exactly how we did it.

All of his experience, his tactical changes, it all paid off.

Rab Douglas is a bit of a legend in Scottish football. what was it like to train beside him?

I didn’t actually know who Rab was when he signed because I’m not from Scotland.

But once they told me his name, I knew him. I watched the UEFA Cup Final when Porto played Celtic and he played that game.

He’s had a massive career and he’s a great guy, he’s a gentleman. There were always points in games or the warm-up when he’d give me tips on what to expect, or things.

Being around him, even if I played a different position, would’ve been great, but being a goalkeeper with him was even better.

How does it feel to help Arbroath finish with the best defensive record of the season?

I was very happy that we finished with the best defence. As a goalkeeper, that’s always the goal, of course – concede the fewest goals and get the most clean sheets – so I was delighted with that.

It shows the guys in front of me are very, very good players. Ricky and Colin were excellent and they always stepped up when they had to.

It’s funny because, at the beginning, it was the three of us travelling together to training, and things, and that maybe played a part.

We spoke a lot and that maybe helped us get on the same wavelength by getting to know each other well.