"I want to make Sligo proud" - Rovers defender Dante Leverock

23rd November 2023

Dante Leverock says he is finding it hard to live with Sligo Rovers’ current league position. The Bermudan centre half was a second half replacement for the Bit O’Red as they were beaten for the fifth time in eight games, following defeat to Bohemia

Dante Leverock says he is finding it hard to live with Sligo Rovers’ current league position.

The Bermudan centre half was a second half replacement for the Bit O’Red as they were beaten for the fifth time in eight games, following defeat to Bohemians at the Showgrounds.

Utilised predominantly as a striker up until his early twenties, Leverock showed his ability in front of goal recently when he scored a late equaliser against Finn Harps in the EA Sports Cup.

While the same man twice went close to dragging Rovers back into Saturday’s game late on. His glancing header wisped past James Talbot’s post, while a second effort came back off the crossbar.

A commanding centre half, Leverock only made the move to a more defensive position recently.

He explained: “I played as a striker up to the age of about twenty.

“About a year later when I was in college in England I changed to centre back. I’ve only really played at the back for six years.

“I was playing non-league and my manager saw my height. He asked me if I wanted to try playing at the back and I said ‘ok, why not?’, but I’m enjoying it.

Something Dante isn’t too keen on today is Rovers’ patchy form which has seen them win just one of their last five outings.

“We’re just not making our own luck”, he said after the defeat to Bohs.

“It’s another loss and we’re disappointed but we can only look forward to the next game. We’re trying to improve, we’re working hard and we believe it will come good but we just have to keep pushing.

“It’s tough to take these losses. But once we go back to training the week starts over. Now we have to focus on Dundalk on Friday.”

Liam Buckley’s charges were on top against Bohs, until Ronan Murray was dismissed for dissent minutes before half-time.

“We played very well in the first half before the red card and we were getting chances”, Dante says.

“That’s something we haven’t been doing before. We’re still learning, we’re a new team but the results have to come now.”

Sligo have profited over the years from imports from all over the world from places such as Cameroon, Benin and Barbados to name just a few.

Leverock, who is also captain of his home nation, can see why those from so far away have established themselves in the history of the club.

“When I first came here I felt that homely atmosphere. There’s a real friendly feeling here and that’s helped me settle.

“But when you’re not winning matches in a football town it’s always tough. I just want to make the people of Sligo proud and make them happy when they come to support Rovers.”

Having played at home, in the US, the lower leagues in England and Estonia’s top division, Leverock says the League of Ireland is undoubtedly his biggest challenge.

“It’s a higher level here”, he says. “Much more physical and more focused on tactics and that brings more pressure. Also, you have bigger crowds here which brings more pressure on you to perform but I’m ready to do that.”

The 26-year-old was a key cog of Bermuda’s first ever qualification to the Gold Cup which takes place this summer.

The smallest nation to ever enter the tournament, the Gombey Warriors will be seen by many as the whipping boys, but skipper Leverock says they are keen to surprise.

“We go into every game expecting to win”, he states.

“People will look at us and think we’re minnows and underestimate us. But that’s what we want. If other teams don’t come prepared then we are going to punish them.

“We have plenty of players playing in professional leagues here in Europe and the majority of us are overseas playing at a decent level.”

“It’s massive for Bermuda football to play in the Gold Cup. It’s the number one sport over there. There’s a huge, huge buzz.

“We had the Premier of Bermuda and Government ministers greeting us after the game. Supporters are already planning their way over and booking tickets. I’m sure there will be thousands over supporting us.

“We’re also looking to inspire the next generation. Because now people know who Bermuda are, it’s easier to get noticed by academies abroad and that will only be good for us.”

Until it’s time to travel back across the Atlantic, the sole focus is on helping Rovers out of their current malaise.

Their next assignment is as tough as they come with the visit of Dundalk to the Yeats County on Friday, while Waterford travel west three days later.

Leverock knows how tough, but how important those games are for Sligo.

“We have to go into those games thinking we’ll win. Now that we’re in a relegation spot every game is a six-pointer. We’re second from bottom and that’s not somewhere you want to be.

“We want to create that atmosphere here of being happy about the team and what we’re doing. So these coming games are massive for us.”