Raith Rovers: Seasoned centre-back Christophe Berra gave some thoughts before his retiral was made public

Veteran Raith Rovers defender Christophe Berra played what would be his final game in a 20-year professional career on Sunday as the Lang Toun side took on Aberdeen at Pittodrie in the Premier Sports League Cup.

By Ralph Mellon
Thursday, 28th July 2022, 11:18 am
Christophe Berra in what would be his last game during a 20-year professional football career - for Raith Rovers against Aberdeen at Pittodrie on Sunday in the Premier Sports League Cup (picture by Craig Foy / SNS Group)
Christophe Berra in what would be his last game during a 20-year professional football career - for Raith Rovers against Aberdeen at Pittodrie on Sunday in the Premier Sports League Cup (picture by Craig Foy / SNS Group)

On Tuesday night, it was confirmed by the club that Berra, 37, had decided to step aside from playing football – effective immediately – as he felt it would be of benefit to the team.

However, just before his decision was publicly announced, the former Hearts skipper and Scottish internationalist spoke to the Fife Free Press sports crew to let us know his thoughts about the start of season 2022-23 and another league campaign for Raith Rovers. Here is the interview:

Raith centre back Christophe Berra reckons Rovers can carry many positive elements back to Aberdeen this weekend, despite the disappointment of their defeat at Pittodrie.

The Kirkcaldy side journeys to the Balmoral Stadium on Saturday to play newly-promoted Cove Rangers in the opening game of the cinch Scottish Championship’s 2022-23 league campaign.

It feels like it’s been quite a long and arduous pre-season crusade already but the veteran rearguard man, who played over 40 times for his country, says the team was relieved to be looking now at the “bread and butter” of the league quest.

The principal focus this season for Raith had to be the play-offs, or possibly even automatic promotion, he added, and the start of a new season was an intriguing time.

“I think there’s always that same buzz for the first game of the season – excitement, nerves. It’ll be a tough game,” he added.

“They (Cove) have come up and might have a bit of momentum from winning the league.”

Berra also believed part-time Cove Rangers, like Arbroath, could do very well against full-time clubs, which he said was a “good balance for Scottish football”.

He added: “It’s hard at the start of a season – it’s always difficult in the first couple of games.

"Teams have a lot of adrenaline but, as the season gets settled, you see teams’ real form and how they are going to play throughout the season.

"Sometimes, the first game, while maybe not a free hit, can be a bit unexpected, with more adrenaline and more energy than most.”

Berra reckoned Saturday would see a vocal, exciting game, with the crowd also having a strong presence.

"I think it feels like it’s been a long pre-season, so we just want to get the league campaign started, start ticking them off, get wins on the board and get a bit of momentum and confidence,” he added.

Berra said the team was understandably sad to lose against Aberdeen in the manner they did but there were many things they accomplished well.

“We always knew it was going to be a tough game – they’ve invested heavily and have a big squad and they’re physically very strong,” he said.

“We also knew at times we wouldn’t have the ball.“In the games we have played this season, we have probably dominated the majority of the ball but we were going up a level and they had a lot of it."But our manager had a formation and tactics and I thought, at times, it frustrated them.”The Dons were exposed occasionally when they gave the ball away and Rovers had three or four counter-attacks and flashes across goal which, said Berra, could have paid off had the final decisions been different.“We are a small squad just now, with players playing out of position,” he added.“We did our best, tried to be patient without the ball and take our opportunities. On another day, we might have got a couple of goals.”Berra and the squad had still hoped there might be a way back for Raith at 2-0.

“All the pressure was on Aberdeen at home – the last game before the league campaign starts and a good crowd for a Premier League cup game,” he said.

“But we gave away two opportunities early in the second half and started a wee bit slowly.

"They were on the front foot and took the sting out of the game at 3-0.

"We did have opportunities but there are positives to take – our young guys came off the bench and got experience and, in every game, you are learning.”