Kelle Roos has revealed his delight at seeing Derby County’s supporters back at Pride Park Stadium.
A 25% stadium capacity, under COVID-19 restrictions, provided a limited number of supporters with the opportunity to see the Rams in action on Sunday afternoon for the first time since March 2020.
Their return to Pride Park saw Wayne Rooney’s side take on Manchester United in their first public pre-season friendly ahead of the 2021/22 Sky Bet Championship season.
The hosts ran out 2-1 winners, with Colin Kazim-Richards scoring Derby’s goal in the second half, but the result was immaterial on an afternoon when the return of Derby’s supporters the overriding positive.
Goalkeeper Roos, who got 60 minutes under his belt in the game, has admitted that playing behind-closed-doors since June 2020 provided a different feel to matches.
After a challenging season on the pitch in 2020/21 without the Derby supporters driving the team on, Roos is confident the Rams’ faithful will have a big part to play moving forward.
“It was amazing to see the fans,” Roos told RamsTV. “From when we first entered the stadium, everyone was just really excited to have the fans back. You could tell that they were excited as well.
“They gave us a great welcome back. It was great to have them back in the stadium and feel that they care as much as we do and are looking forward to, hopefully, a good season.
“I think everyone is excited to be back and we are very grateful to have them back too.”
He added: “We all agree that football without fans is nowhere near the same. Ultimately we are one big unit and we work together as a whole, I think everyone is very happy to see them and hear them back in the stadium.”
Roos felt Derby’s performance against last season’s Premier League and UEFA Europa League runners-up was encouraging.
Rooney is stamping his own vision on the squad over the course of his first pre-season in charge, following his appointment on a permanent basis in January of this year.
Derby still have plenty of work to get through, but Roos is confident the Rams are on the right track.
Roos said: “I think we played some great stuff at times. When you play against a Premier League giant they can punish you, but at times I thought we looked good.
“We are working on something new here now and it is taking good shape. We just need some time.
“We need to start believing in ourselves as well. We did not come here today to just roll over and have a great day against Manchester United.
“We wanted to do our thing and play some good football. I think we showed that.”
He concluded: “Results-wise this can happen against big team, but at the same time that was not the mindset before the game and it rubs off on everyone.”