Super Mario has loved 'extraordinary' bond with City fans
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Mario Vrancic will always cherish his time at Norwich City and is so happy to be parting ways with a ‘great club’ on good terms.
The 31-year-old midfielder made his 134th and final appearance for the Canaries during Saturday’s 2-2 draw at Barnsley, as the champions were presented with the Championship trophy after the game at Oakwell.
His 17 goals since joining from Darmstadt for a reported £650,000 in 2017 included some unforgettable moments, including the strikes which sealed promotion against Blackburn and the title against Aston Villa two years ago.
With the curtain falling on his City career on the same day that Alex Tettey’s nine seasons came to an end, Vrancic hadn’t quite reached the tearful stage of his team-mate just yet.
“Maybe it’s because I haven’t realised it yet but also I was trying to focus on the game because I haven’t played for a while, I haven’t started for a while,” he said.
“I tried to enjoy the game as well but I’m probably not like Tetts, who’s almost crying.
“He’s played five years longer and has played a big role in this club, so maybe I will cry when I’m leaving eventually but not yet.”
The Bosnia & Herzegovina international turns 32 later this month and isn’t sure what his next move will be yet, ahead of the expiration of his Norwich contract at the end of June – with a holiday first on the agenda after a gruelling campaign.
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“Many memories and great memories as well, not just on the pitch but off the pitch as well,” Vrancic continued.
“Great people, a great club and I just hope all the players who come here will appreciate or cherish what the club does for the players.
“Because for me it’s not taken for granted, they’ve always been nice to me, welcomed me very nicely four years ago. It’s just a great club, great characters and I wish the club nothing but the best.”
Late winners against Wycombe and Birmingham in October had played a key role in kick-starting City’s title triumph, contributing three goals and five assists during 34 appearances this season.
The draw at Barnsley was a 19th league start of the campaign, when the champions had to fight back twice on a soggy day in South Yorkshire, as the Tykes maintained momentum ahead of the play-offs.
“I was sitting on the bus next to Tetts, we knew we were both starting and I was like ‘Tetts man, last game, at Barnsley, raining, five degrees – it couldn’t be a worse finish’ to be honest,” Vrancic joked.
“But I think we’ve done well, both of us, and the whole team.”
As for the majority of the season, it was an empty stadium for the duo’s farewell, but at least finished with the memories of lifting the Championship trophy for a second time.
“It’s a big achievement, for me personally as well, but it’s still strange without the supporters, you can’t celebrate properly,” Vrancic added.
“But it is how it is and obviously we have achieved something special, I was a part of that and let’s hope the club will carry on like that.”
The former Mainz and Paderborn midfielder became a firm favourite with Canaries thanks to his classy style, calm persona and free-kick prowess.
His crucial injury-time equaliser against Sheffield Wednesday at Carrow Road and brace during the 3-1 win at Leeds during 2018-19 were epic moments that have become part of club folklore.
“The bond, the connection, is just amazing, extraordinary really,” Vrancic said of the City supporters.
"All the messages I’ve received and the big support through this tough time is just amazing.
“I don’t take it for granted, let’s just hope the team will do well in the Premier League next season and the fans are back then.”