Sligo Rovers have announced the signing of Bermuda captain Dante Leverock from Estonian outfit Narva Trans.
The centre half, who spent a lot of his childhood in England, had an impressive season in the Estonian league, including scoring eight goals from the back.
He has 15 caps and two goals with Bermuda and was recently appointed captain when quickly emerging as a leader for the side who are pushing for Gold Cup qualification.
He started his career in English non-league before joining Harrisburg City Islanders in America and returned to play for Ilkeston under Shaun Goater.
Leverock was a stand out player for Narva Trans as they finished fourth in the top flight in Estonia.
He said after signing a one-year contract: “It’s an honour to sign for Sligo Rovers today.
“I’d heard about the club from former player Ciaran Nugent who I know from the Islanders and Jake Keegan too who plays for St Pat’s.
“I’ve done my research on Sligo Rovers and I see the community aspect of the club, that there’s a family within the club and that really attracted me to here.
“It’s important to me to be part of a close-knit group and I see football is very popular in Sligo.
“I’ve worked very hard to make it as a professional and I’ve just had a very good experience in Estonia. I think I did well and at international level it has been positive too.
“When I spoke to Liam I really couldn’t pass up the chance to come play for him and this club.
“He told me of how he wants Rovers to improve and I think he can help grow me as a player.
“He explained there will be tough competition but that’s something I thrive on and it makes us all better players.
“I really look forward to meeting the management, the players and fans of Sligo Rovers. We will aim for a very good year ahead for all of us.”
Buckley said: “Dante emerged as a possible signing and we took a good look at him and thought he had something to offer.
“He’s a good big centre half and while his goal record might stand out, he’s a defender so clean sheets is his target.
“He’s got a good background of experience in English non-league and he’s coming with the knowledge of playing abroad and international level.
“That’s useful as we have a lot of youth in our squad and we need a balance.
“He’s hungry to make as good a career as he can for himself and this is another step forward for him again which we think he can take.”
John Russell has returned to Sligo Rovers as assistant manager to Liam Buckley, the Bit O’Red confirmed this evening.
Russell has been manager of Westport United for 2018 and working as a regional development officer for several years.
He has also tonight signed as a player for the 2019 campaign for Rovers.
The 33-year-old has made 179 appearances with the club so far, scoring 17 goals.
Russell said on becoming assistant to Liam Buckley: “I’m delighted to be back and working with Liam Buckley in particular is a great fit for me I think.
“I’ve been a player under Liam and I always thought he was fantastic and one of, if not the best, I’ve been managed by. His record speaks for itself. He shares the same philosophies I have and instills the style of play I like to see teams have.
“I’ve always been keen on coaching and working in my role as an FAI development officer has been rewarding and beneficial to my own learning. I’d like to thank Westport United for giving me the opportunity to manage their super league team this year.
“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time there and it was a pleasure to manage and coach the players. Westport have a big match coming up in the last 32 of the Junior Cup. I want to wish them every success in that and thank them for their understanding.
“This is just a fantastic opportunity for me and to be back at Sligo Rovers is a nice feeling. I’m looking forward to starting pre-season next month. I’ve played with some of the lads already, I know all of the young players from a coaching capacity in my work with the FAI so it will be good to see everyone soon.”
The midfielder said on signing as a player: “My role is first and foremost as an assistant and to coach, that’s what I’ve come here for.
“I feel I can contribute if called upon, if there is situation that needs it. I’ve kept myself in good condition. But my focus will be the sideline primarily.”
The Bit O’ Red wish to extend our thanks to Westport United for their co-operation and allowing us to make the announcement this evening.
Liam Buckley said on appointing John as full-time assistant: “I know John very well from St Pat’s and I know what type of character he is.
“He is very well-spoken of as a coach and eager to get an opportunity. It was a no-brainer as far as I’m concerned. I know he is respected in the region and he’s going to bring so much as a number two. He’ll have fresh ideas and he’ll be a great sounding for me to work with. There’s also the local knowledge as well which will be useful given it’s early stages here for me.
“I think it’s a great appointment and he’ll be a big asset to the club.”
Buckley said on the playing side: “I’ve brought in John to be part of the backroom, that’s his main remit.
“To have a 33-year-old of his ability at the club and still fresh means it makes sense to register him.
“We’ll see how it goes. It’s not something there should be too much focus on but it’s useful to me to know I can call upon John because he can certainly contribute to the squad.”