Goalkeeper Lawrence Vigouroux on the riots, rubber bullets and rebuilding his career

Just three months earlier, in July 2019, the goalkeeper had moved to Concón, on the Pacific coast, seeking to break through in the national team.

Joining Everton from Viña del Mar after his release from Swindon, he was away from the Wiltshire camp but it was a move he had to make, having been called up for the first time by Chile a year earlier.

Five months and zero appearances later, he returned to England a different man.

Stevenage v Leyton Orient – ​​Sky Bet League Two – Lamex Stadium
Vigouroux went to play in Chile due to social discontent. (Rhianna Chadwick/PA)

Protests, sparked by an increase in rail fares, forced the cancellation of the Chilean Primera División and Vigouroux, now in Leyton Orient, saw forests catch fire and locals riot.

“The government raised the price of a train ticket, in our money, by around 20p and just went crazy,” he told the PA news agency.

“They were burning down supermarkets and it was like, ‘Wow, I’m coming from Camden, the main thing I see is when someone leaves the stove on and there’s a small fire in the kitchen.’

“There were people protesting, they were standing in Plaza Italia, our equivalent of Trafalgar Square in Santiago. They were there for days, the police shooting people with rubber bullets. It was really scary.

“I went to visit my grandfather in Santiago. He was on the bus and the forest was on fire. he was crazy. Smoke everywhere, on both sides of the road, it was like he was in an Armageddon movie. Large trees on both sides in flames, the image of this was amazing.

“Then when I got there, it was like a war zone. On top of that, there are earthquakes almost every few days due to location in the world.

“They’re not that strong but you can feel it, especially coming from England. It was surreal but it is a brilliant country.

“The Constitution finally changed and I agreed with the people, because the country is only as good as the people who live in it.”

Various issues caused the riots, including Santiago metro fares rising 4 percent and a 10-peso increase for buses, with 17 stations ultimately going up in flames.

For a country already in a cost-of-living crisis, it was a turning point and gave the 29-year-old, who once paid a £50.5,000 fine while on loan at Swindon from Liverpool, a prospect that has shaped his career ever since.

“As a human being, definitely,” says Vigouroux, who with his partner Shemika has children India, Thiago and Carmelo. “I had a lot of problems when I was younger in terms of discipline: being late or leaving when I shouldn’t.

“It helped me as a person because I love the game. He showed me how much he wanted to succeed if he ever got the chance to come back here and not mess anything up. I felt like I was at my last chance.

“I have a lot of regrets, but I wouldn’t change a thing because I would have had to learn anyway. My way of being was not acceptable. I have learned the hard way.

“I had to go miles from my family to try to make a career because nobody here wanted me.”

His return from South America has been a success. Joining Orient in 2020, he followed up two player of the season awards at Brisbane Road and the O’s are six points clear at the top of League Two going into Saturday’s trip to Hartlepool.

He has kept 20 clean sheets in 36 games, four more than any other goaltender in the division, and conceded just 24 times.

The irony in the shape of his life with Richie Wellens, the manager who left him at Swindon, is not lost on Vigouroux, but he is happy to play and be a father.

Newport County v Leyton Orient – ​​Sky Bet League Two – Cardiff City Stadium
Vigouroux has kept 20 clean sheets this season. (Simon Galloway/PA)

“The way he was liberated me, not as a player but as a person,” he says, having started his career at Brentford and Tottenham before moving to Anfield.

“Now I am completely different. I’ll be the first to say that he wasn’t the most professional when he was younger. I don’t think you can say that now. He really wanted to make it work when he arrived.

“It’s good because I can do the school race and that’s it. Some people take it for granted. I couldn’t do it nor was I able to watch my kids grow every day and be there for them every step of the way (when he was in Chile).

“When I leave here I disconnect from football and I’m just a dad. Then I go back to the training camp to become a footballer.

“I just want to be there for my kids and help them with their homework. It helps me mentally so that I don’t get consumed by football”.


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