Words: ACFC Media
Monday 15 January 2018
AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Ryan De Vries has signed a professional contract with J.League 2 outfit FC Gifu.
The 26-year-old striker underwent a medical with his new club and following a short period of negotiation signed on the line for his first hit out in professional football.
De Vries joined the Navy Blues in September 2013 winning ISPS Handa Premiership titles in 2013-14 and 2014-15, four OFC Champions League titles, an OFC President's Cup, a Nike Lunar New Year Cup and a handful of Charity Cup winners medals.
De Vries paid tribute to Auckland City FC for the part the club played in his career development.
"I want to thank everyone connected with Auckland City FC from the board to the supporters but especially my team-mates and coaching staff for everything they've given me these past few years.
"It’s been a pleasure to play for this club. We experienced a lot of ups and downs on the pitch but I have mostly unbelievably good memories to take away with me.
"Auckland City FC achieved milestones not many teams in New Zealand may ever experience. I'm going to miss everyone at the club. I want to wish the club good luck for the rest of this season and in the future," De Vries said.
Coach Ramon Tribulietx acknowledged De Vries' loss has significant to his side's hopes of challenging for the ISPS Handa Premiership and OFC Champions League titles but was delighted his protege has secured a professional opportunity.
"I'm truly happy for Ryan but at the same time it is a situation that it is not good for us as a team as we are losing a very important player.
"I'm astounded this move hasn't happened sooner for a player of Ryan's quality particularly in the last two years.
"Ryan is a player that can grow in a professional competition and environment. The reality is Ryan trained and played for us to a high standard and held down a fulltime job outside of the game and like anyone in his situation that can be a distraction from his football for sure.
"But I'm pleased he has at last reached a full time professional environment where he will be able to show his potential and prove himself," he said.
Tribulietx said De Vries brings great character traits to any club and described the assets he will take to a competitive environment.
"Ryan is one of those special players capable of winning a game by himself, his speed and his physical strength combined with his ability to play the game make him a very precious player for any team and I hope he can show that in a very difficult competition like the J.League. He has an X factor that teams look for.
"Ryan is a good person, he gets on very well with everyone, he always has a smile on his face and he is very close to his family. I wish him every success with FC Gifu," Tribulietx said.
The Cape Town-born All White enjoyed four ISPS Handa Premiership title victories during his time with Super City derby rivals Waitakere United before making the switch to Kiwitea Street.
De Vries was also a key figure for the Navy Blues during their historic third place finish at the FIFA Club World Cup Morocco 2014 in which he netted the opening goal against Cruz Azul, a game Auckland City FC would go on to win on penalties.
He made his debut for the All Whites in a 1-0 defeat to South Korea in 2015. De Vries is the second Navy Blues player to be plucked for a professional contract following Daewook Kim's transfer to K-League club Anyang FC.
While Tribulietx believes professional clubs signing Auckland City FC's players must mean the club is doing something right in its football development, he admitted losing another player was difficult but he played his cards close to his chest about potential replacements.
"We've lost four players to professional football with Clayton Lewis in England, Joao Moreira with a Maltese club, Daewook Kim joining Anyang FC and now Ryan headed to Japan.
"We're keeping a close eye on the domestic scene to see if there is someone that can fit the way we play. These developments mean a very good test for the depth of our squad and our team. The strength of our football will need to take care of the changes as it always has."
Auckland City FC player departures 2017-18
Joao Moreira - Hibernians FC (Malta)
Clayton Lewis - Scunthorpe United (England)
Daewook Kim - Anyang FC (Korea Republic)
Ryan De Vries - FC Gifu (Japan)
Auckland City FC coach departures 2017-18
Carl Edwards - Wellington Phoenix
Ryan Faithfull - USA
Sun 6 Jan 2018, kick-off 2pm NZST, Trusts Arena