Vytas Gaspuitis has paid tribute to the Dunfermline faithful following an ‘unforgettable’ stint at East End Park — but insists it was ‘time to move on’.
The Lithuania defender made an understated exit during a hectic January transfer window on the Halbeath Road, with the Pars citing homesickness.
Boss John Hughes also confirmed that Gaspuitis was keen to play more regularly in order to bolster his international career.
The towering stopper made 22 appearances during his 11 months at Dunfermline, becoming something of a cult favourite due to his no-nonsense style and tireless work ethic. And the feeling is mutual.
Reflecting on his time in Scotland for the first time, Gaspuitis told Courier Sport: “From my first day with the club until the day I left, I always felt very welcome in Scotland.
“I could feel a lot of support from everyone and I want to tell the fans how grateful I am.
“Even in the times when the team was struggling, the fans were always supportive and I am very thankful to them for that.
“My time at Dunfermline was a great experience. When you arrive in Scotland, you can feel the big tradition of football and how much everyone — the people within the club; the fans; everyone in town — loves the sport.”
He added: “One of my favourite moments was when I made my first start against Hearts [0-0 draw, April 2021]. It was an unforgettable experience for me.”
Discussing the challenges of playing outside his homeland for the first time, amid a global pandemic, Gaspuitis was circumspect.
He added: “This actually wasn’t a big problem for me. I came to Scotland for one purpose: to play for Dunfermline and work hard. I always kept this priority in mind.
“Of course, the pandemic had challenges — needing to spend more time in the flat and not seeing my teammates as often as I wanted — but I stayed focused on my training. I was always prepared.”
Gaspuitis, who played just three times following the arrival of Hughes, is currently weighing up his options after calling time on his Dunfermline career.
As he was released in January, he is able to join another club outside the transfer window. Sides in Lithuania and further afield have already registered interest with his agent, Ken van Deyck.
“Dunfermline was a great chapter in my career and one that I’m very grateful for,” he added. “But I felt it was a good time to move on.
“Before I left, I called everyone — my coaches, teammates, chef, kitman — to say goodbye.
“It was such a fantastic group of people. I’m really happy I had the chance to spend those times together.”
Asked whether he would consider a return to these shores in the future, Gaspuitis added: “The level of football is very high and I enjoyed it. You never know what will happen in the future. I’m open to possibilities.”