Romario Vieira is keen to turn the tide in his favour – and it would not be before time either. The 22-year-old midfielder rues the departure of the Leeds United manager who had been impressed enough to include him in his matchday squad in the Championship, while injury later took away the deal he was set to be offered at Doncaster Rovers.

Joining Tadcaster Albion recently has returned him to the place that was a springboard for his Leeds move four years ago. After a couple of years that have been paved only with roadblocks, Taddy feels to him like the ideal place to reset and begin his progression again. Time remains on his side and his everyday efforts are centred on his football. As he looks firmly ahead, here’s a range of insight from Rom himself on his path so far…

 

You were announced as signing for Gateshead on non-contract terms at the start of October. Was it just a case of Tadcaster coming up and a chance to be closer to home, and back at your old club?

Gateshead came about because that’s where I did my knee last year. When I left Leeds, I went to Doncaster and it didn’t really work out there and I had to get surgery on my ankle. It took me four or five months to recover from that, and when I recovered, I started training with Gateshead, to hopefully end up signing for them. Then in my first week of training, I did my knee, my meniscus. I had surgery for that and it took me a year-and-a-bit to recover from. When I recovered, that’s when I went back up there to train with them. They decided to put me on non-contract to see how I’d progress, after being out so long. Me and the manager decided just to let me go and get game time somewhere else, find my feet and come back here, or if not, then somewhere else. Within myself, I just felt like I needed a fresh start.

How did the conversations about joining Taddy go?

I reached out to my agent and I asked him about Taddy. He said ‘it’s not a bad option, to be honest,’ and I just said ‘yeah, it’s somewhere where I would be free and just start enjoying football again.’ He reached out to the manager or one of the owners, and Paul Quinn, the manager, gave me a call. I said that I’d like to come in, train, play a few games, get my sharpness back. Moving up the ladder is the main goal but I’m coming in to play and try to win games. It’s a very special club for me as well.

Is the club different at all since you last played for them? Has anything in particular got better?

It’s always improving, that’s the thing I like about it. Every year, there’s something that improves, even if it’s just a little bit. Back then, I don’t think we had a strength and conditioning coach at that level, and now they do. They’ve got a proper physio, so they really are improving.

In the initial lockdown in March, what did that mean for you? Were you fit at that point, were you training alone?

That was when I started doing outside work, with my knee, because that’s when I started feeling more confident with it. I used to see a physio twice a week, and around that time, he told me ‘just go for a little jog and touch the ball for a bit.’ I did that for the first couple of weeks of lockdown, and then later on, I got a couple of my friends that play football to come with me and just help me out. After two weeks of doing that, training with myself and with my friends, I got a strength and conditioning coach to do a few sessions with me.

In the times that you’ve had with clubs on trial, was it easy to keep positive or is it tough always going somewhere trying to prove yourself worthy of a contract?

I think trials are not good for players. I don’t know if I’m gonna make sense here, but this is my own opinion. A player can have an amazing season, and then for some reason, he gets released or decides to move on. Then that player who just had that amazing season could get offered a trial somewhere, and on that specific week, something could be happening in his personal life. Something might be happening that can affect his performance, and in that week, he goes into the trial and he’s not at the level he is normally, because of other things. I just feel like players shouldn’t be judged over trials; watch their games and see what they do, then give them a shot. When I was going into trials with clubs, I wasn’t really fit. The whole situation at Doncaster was I left Leeds after deciding to run down my contract, because I didn’t want to sign another year to be with the 23s again and not given chances in the first team. I decided to just move on, then Doncaster came about, and I got offered a deal there, but that’s when I did my ankle, just before I went to sign. The manager spoke to me and said ‘I’m kicking myself for letting you play,’ because I injured myself in a game that I wasn’t meant to play in, and ‘I’m gutted that we can’t offer you the deal now because of the injury.’ So my agent asked if I wanted to keep going on trial or to have the surgery. I said ‘another month of trying won’t kill me,’ so I went into two clubs, Bradford City and Notts County, but I just couldn’t perform. My ankle was sore, I needed surgery on it, and I was still running and playing on it. Mentally, I just wasn’t there; there was a lot of factors, you know?

In that time at Leeds, did anyone in particular help you? Whether it was teammates, people who work at the club behind the scenes, whoever.

Yeah, just people who helped me and they don’t even know they have. One of those where you’re just watching them and you get a lot from it, just seeing how professional they are. People like Liam Cooper, Hadi Sacko, Luke Ayling, my brother who was there.

Who was the Leeds first-team manager who you felt took most interest in you and seemed to think you had something?

Thomas Christiansen. Then he got sacked and I got sent back down to the 23s!

What kind of things would he say, would you have conversations with him?

He would literally just tell me ‘go and enjoy yourself’. He put me on the bench for two games and he said ‘if you come on, just enjoy yourself’. He didn’t say ‘you’ve got to do this, do that, I expect this, I expect that,’ he just put me in there and said to be free to enjoy it.

What kind of approach from a coach/manager do you think gets the best out of you?

Just honesty, that’s the best for me. If I’m playing shit, tell me I’m playing shit. Don’t say ‘oh, well done Rom, next time.’ If I miss a pass, I’m kicking myself, so I expect my manager to do the same, but then when I’m doing well, I want the credit as well. So just honesty, because some players go and ask the manager ‘why am I not playing?’ and they’ll be like ‘oh yeah, you’re doing well,’ when really, they’re not.

Which coach you’ve worked with has understood that best so far?

One of them is Danny Schofield, and the other one is Carlos Corberán, the Huddersfield Town manager. Both of them are really honest coaches, really direct and they tell you what they want. Especially Danny, he understands the mental side of it. With me, there were days where I was just down, things weren’t going right, and he’d ask if I was okay, ‘if you wanna talk about anything, just give me a call, any time.’ Just being there for your players, and that makes you give even more for them, when a coach is like that with you.

Growing up, where in Portugal and where in England have you spent the most time? Where is home in each of those?

In Portugal, home for me is Algarve; Albufeira, Faro. Then in England, Leeds really.

Would there ever be times growing up where you and your (twin) brother (Hellas Verona loan player Ronaldo Vieira) would pretend to be each other, to confuse people?!

Yeah, we used to prank a lot of people, to be honest! When we were younger, we looked more like each other, so people used to get confused.

What did you study at York College?

I was studying business there. I actually finished it, but Rony didn’t, because in the first year, he went to Leeds. So I’ve got the qualification and he doesn’t! I think he must have finished it during his time at Leeds, though.

Before Leeds, you were supposedly due to sign for a Czech club. Have you had many chances to sign for clubs abroad?

Yeah, I had the opportunity to go and play in Cape Town in South Africa, for Cape Town City. Also Czech Republic, Sweden at Östersund. So I believe in myself and that I can go somewhere, I just need to make sure I’m right before I do. I know it’s gonna work out; might take a bit of time but it’s gonna work out.

Have you ever had to sing in front of your teammates in your time in football so far?

Yeah, when I joined the 23s at Leeds, and then when I was on the bench for the first team. I’ve actually got the video. It was scary, I remember I was shaking. I think it was an Ed Sheeran song; I can’t remember what I sang for the 23s.

Were you getting cheered, getting booed?!

No, it was quite a good reaction actually, they were all joining in! They were all joining in and clapping and stuff, even the backroom staff.

Away from playing, what else do you enjoy?

Playing PS4, and then time with the family, going out for food and stuff. For me, though, if I’m not playing football, I’m either watching it, or playing it on the console, so football somehow always gets involved.

Finally, if you look back on that teenager who signed for Leeds, have you changed since then, and if so, how?

Oh yeah, definitely. A lot more mentally strong, I’d say. I’d say wiser, and even within the game itself, wiser as well. Probably more confident in my ability as well.

Interview by @chris_brookes

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