I said last season that if Petr Cech was worth 15 points to Chelsea, then Dorus De Vries was worth 20 to Nottingham Forest.
So it is with genuine sadness that I have to accept life without the big Dutchman in the Forest goal. His transfer to Scottish giants Celtic happened all too fast for my liking, and I wish we could have had an opportunity to talk him around.
For me, he has been the best goalkeeper since Steve Sutton. Others argue that Mark Crossley ranks higher but he had far longer to gain momentum. The form of De Vries last season was nothing short of magical, and without him we may well have been relegated.
Many fans feel frustrated, because the Premier League now seems even further away. Some have taken to social media, and labelled us as nothing more than a selling club, one that lacks ambition. You have to sympathise because the Dutchman was such an integral part of our team; the first name on anybody’s team sheet for that matter.
On the flip side; I am happy for Dorus, because he has a chance of European football with the Hoops and also given the fact that he is such a genuine guy, with which anyone who has been lucky enough to meet him will surely concur.
I strongly disagree that “at this age It’s a good time to let him go,” as some have said. That’s absolute nonsense; if you need examples of why, then you need only look at the likes of Shilton, Seaman, Given and Buffon. The aforementioned have all kept goal at international level, just shy of their 40th birthdays.
We can moan all we like but we have to face the facts; he’s gone and needs replacing quickly.
So who could possibly fill those golden gloves? Stephen Henderson has been signed but must be given time to settle, as he has spent nearly ten years in various loan spells.
Despite a somewhat shaky start to his City Ground career, he needs time to unpack his bags for once. It also helps if the defence in front of you stops replicating that of a six-year-old’s on his games console.
The club have shown interest in Dimi Konstantopolos from Middlesbrough, who ironically had a short loan spell with us back in 2008. A decent keeper by all accounts but for me we should be looking closer to home.
One thing Nottingham Forest have always managed to boast is a long line of good goalkeepers. Whether they were signed or home grown, it’s been a position of high standards over the last 150 years.
Iconic names like Danny Allsop, Chic Thompson, Peter Grummitt, Peter Shilton and Steve Sutton will live long in the memories of Forest fans, all over the world.
As for understudies, you can reel off names like Chris Woods, Hans Segers, Karl Darlow and Dorus De Vries himself. All of them stepped up to the plate and excelled.
So the obvious conclusion for me is to look no further than Dimitar Evtimov, who has an identical modus operandi to big Dorus. Both have performed well behind the scenes and had identical, early spells in the first team. De Vries made his debut in a 2-1 against Leeds United, but is more remembered for his inclusion in a fifth round FA cup tie against Sheffield United.
Having played very well, he made a costly error that ended the Reds’ Wembley dream in 2014.
Likewise, Evtimov featured against Sheffield Wednesday last season, having a very good game indeed. Just like his mentor, he made one mistake and as we all know, that is enough to cost you dearly as a keeper.
Dougie Freedman annoyed me when he berated Evtimov following his solitary mistake against Wednesday. This was a cowardly thing to do, given the attitudes of some of his outfield players at that time. However, Evtimov knows how well he played in that game and so too do the fans.
The point I’m alluding to here is that our understudies have been consistently good enough, time after time. I’ve seen enough of Evtimov to know that he can make the grade at the City Ground; he is full of confidence and has been capped at under 21 level by his native Bulgaria.
I don’t see the point in shopping around when we have talent in the ranks, it worked with Darlow and De Vries didn’t it?
I’m sure if you speak to De Vries he would welcome the inclusion of his young understudy into the first team at Forest.
So, all that remains to be said is that we’re missing you already Dorus. We also wish you the very best at Parkhead and would have you back in heart beat - thanks for the memories!