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'We're definitely on the right path': Doneil Henry Interview

The 2021 Hana 1Q K League 1 campaign picked up where the last one ended with Park Kun-ha's Suwon Samsung Bluewings side playing some exciting football. Central defender Doneil Henry missed the start of the season due to injury but has made his return and is proving to be a key player and both ends of the pitch. The Canadian international believes the Bluewings are on the right path to challenge for honours this season.

Doneil Henry moved to Suwon Bluewings for the start of the 2020 season and went on to make 20 appearances in his debut season, scoring once; the opener in a 2-1 away win over Gangwon FC in October. But, it proved to be his last of the campaign after picking up an injury. The former Vancouver Whitecaps defender has had to bide his time but is now back in the team and helping Suwon Bluewings mount a title push. 

Speaking shortly after Suwon Bluewings' Round 17 1-1 draw with Daegu FC, Henry talks about his move to K League, his "fearless" Suwon teammates, how the Bluewings is a "first class" club and much more.

Interview Preview

You seem to be really enjoying your time here in South Korea?

"Yeah, definitely. It's been a great adjustment on something that I wasn't sure about in the beginning. But, following the [COVID-19] protocols and then still being able to have a life outside of football too kind of helped me a lot because I haven't been able to see much family over the calendar football year. My life in Korea is amazing, I met some amazing people, the football this year has been really good so it helps with everything else."

How did the K League move materialise?

"I was on an away trip (with Vancouver Whitecaps). And I was talking to one of my ex teammates in Vancouver and he told me his agent wanted to talk to me. I just sent him on to my agent and they kind of had a conversation. I had no idea about the K League, I hadn't watched a game. All I knew I had a teammate in Vancouver, Hwang In-beom, who kind of told me about it. So I kind of talked to him and I asked him about the team. He told me it was a very big team in Korea with a lot of history, and he was the one who kind of gave me that confidence and understanding and kind of introduced me to the K League. 

"Then I kind of started to get more familiar with [the idea] and when it came time to contract time in the MLS, where I was trying to get a new deal and couldn't find something that I thought was something that I deserved, I pursued other options. I just wanted to see Korea, see what it was like before I made that big transition and being moved because it's a very, very, very big move, to leave North America and then to go to somewhere that far and be away from your family. But when I came here, I felt really comfortable, safe. The club is first class, very professional. That made me feel very comfortable about my decision moving forward."

You are back from injury, now you're starting games, how does it feel to be back in the team?

"Oh, finally, I was losing my head. I was thinking I'm ready before I was ready. I'm happy that I followed the plan with the medical staff. And the coaching staff will give me the full trust to come back and to help the team as much as possible. I'm happy to be back because obviously, playing for my club team, but also being able to hopefully represent my national team very soon again, also something to look forward to knowing that the World Cup qualifiers are just around the corner."

You came off the bench and then scored the winner against Jeju United, what a comeback that was...

"Yeah, that's the character and the testament of the boys. And the caution stuff, we started really slow. I knew I wasn't going to start the game, but I knew that I would probably get an opportunity to play and I was itching to get anything, build my fitness and get better every game. So when I when I got on, I knew I had to do a job, it was pretty simple. And if I can score a goal here and there, obviously, I'm doing it for the team and for the boys. It was a great comeback, it just shows character that until the last whistle blows we never give up."

What is Park Kun-ha like to work with? Is he hands-on at the training ground?

"Definitely more hands on. I've had a few coaches here now. You can definitely see that he's the boss - his presence is felt. He's a lover of the game, obviously a lover of this club, passionate, also played here. So he really does want to it do all, he takes his job seriously. And it shows, he's really instilled a way of play within us. But definitely, as you can see, the mental change from last season to this season. 

"Our last two results (Round 16 and 17), we tied against top teams. Last year, we would have been celebrating and being happy. But we're really annoyed to know that we squandered points against Ulsan, who is now at the top of the K League after beating Jeonbuk, and then squandering our lead or one thing we did in the 90 minutes (against Daegu). So, we can tell the boys are mad and being mad is a good thing. Because it shows that we we know we can we can get in a scuffle and fight with with the best of them and get results. We've done it so far this season. We've had some really big wins. But we've also played some good football and scored really good goals. So now we're definitely on the right path and we just want to continue to do these kinds of things."

Full interview available on KLeague.com

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