CONCACAF Q&A: Dante Leverock (Ilkeston FC & Bermuda)

After two years playing in the USA, Dante Leverock (pictured) is now playing in England for Shaun Goater, a Bermuda football legend. (Photo: Harrisburg City Islanders)

Defender Dante Leverock is a rising talent in CONCACAF. The 6-foot-4 Bermudian international played for the USA’s Harrisburg City Islanders, but he’s now with Ilkeston FC in England, where he competes for Bermuda legend Shaun Goater. Leverock, 24, took some time to speak to about his future ambitions.

How old were you when you first started to play football?
I started to play football at five-years-old in Bermuda and I've been in love with the game ever since. It truly is a wonderful sport to play and watch. 

Which footballers inspired you as a youngster?
I always admired Frenchman Thierry Henry. He was such a great player in his time. Also, my cousin Khano Smith, who played in the MLS for some time and who scored key goals in World Cup Qualifiers for Bermuda. 

How does it feel to be back playing in England? How do you compare English football to football you played in the United States?
It actually feels good to be back in England. It is a place especially for central defenders who can thrive and grow quite well. I learned a lot and developed as a player playing professionally in the USA for the last two years. To test myself in England at a higher level was the best decision. Playing in England, the tempo is faster and tactically a bit different. In the U.S., there was more emphasis on maximising set-piece opportunities.

You are with Ilkeston FC, where your manager is former Manchester City and Bermuda star player Shaun Goater. How is it working with him?
Working with Goater is an experience I'm lucky to have as a player. He has a wealth of knowledge and has played in the highest level in England, so I'm trying to learn as much as I can while I'm working under him. He had a lot of success as a player and I will work hard to do the same as well. 

You scored on your second appearance for Bermuda in CONCACAF qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers, a 5-0 win over the Bahamas. What was that moment like for you?
Representing my country is the biggest honor and to score in my first World Cup Qualifying appearance is something I will never forget. I'm glad I've been able to continue putting on the Bermuda jersey. I will never forget that day in Nassau, Bahamas. I believe we (Bermuda) have a team capable of great things in the future, so it is all about consistently building and improving together.

What are your goals for 2017?
This year, I want to reach the highest level possible, proving myself and developing into a top defender whether that is in the Football League or professionally in Europe. I expect to be back at a professional club by the summer. I want to be best defender Bermuda has ever seen. That is my personal goal.

What advice do you have for youths who want to play football professionally?
As a kid who wants to wake up every day and play football, my advice is to work hard and practice every second you can and never give up on your dream. I'm lucky enough to be living mine with my support system. My career is dedicated to my mother. 

What do you like to do for fun outside of football?
I'm a simple guy…some good food and funny enough watching some footy on the television and I'm happy.