ENDING a ten-month wait for an Oxford United debut meant the world to Christian Ribeiro, even if it finished with defeat at Bradford City.
Nicky Law scored the only goal of the game on Good Friday, where the U’s pushed hard against the high-flying Bantams but fell just short in front of almost 20,000 supporters.
While the result did not go to plan, it was a big day for Ribeiro.
The 27-year-old signed from Exeter City last summer, but broke his ankle in training on the eve of the new season in August.
A complicated recovery, coupled with the form of Phil Edwards, has kept him on the sidelines – until now.
The right back said: “It’s amazing to think that’s my Oxford debut, it’s been so long.
“I tried not to over-think it because I’ve spent so many months in the physio room thinking about when it’s going to come and when you get back training you hope it goes well.
“It means so much for me personally to make my debut.
“I’m over the moon just to play and get that opportunity to show I am a player here.
“People can easily forget who Ribeiro is, so it’s nice to stake a bit of a claim. That’s all I can do now.”
The result stretched City’s unbeaten home league run to 29 games, but United’s display was enough to worry the home fans at times.
And Ribeiro felt they had played well enough to warrant something from the contest.
He said: “The team gave absolutely everything and I think we were a little bit unfortunate not to come away with anything.
“It was a really tough one to come into. Bradford away is one of the hardest games of the season and I was disappointed with the result, but I enjoyed just being out there.”
Aside from Law’s tap-in, United’s back four stood up well to Bradford’s pressure.
Centre back Charlie Raglan paid tribute to Ribeiro for the part he played.
He said: “I know what it’s like to be training every day, miss games and then come in – it’s hard.
“He’s kept his head down and he has a lot of experience. He’s an intelligent man and a good player, as you saw.
“I was really pleased for him to come in and perform like he did. I was impressed.”