Striker Russell signs for Ilkeston
Bermuda striker Antwan Russell has completed a move to English non-league side Ilkeston FC after a successful brief spell at the club this season.
The 26-year-old scored three goals for the ambitious Derbyshire-based side who are coached by former Chelsea striker Kevin Wilson, a former Walsall teammate of Bermuda’s Kyle Lightbourne.
Russell, who has returned to the Island to prepare for Bermuda Hogges’ season and the national team’s NatWest Island Games campaign, said he hoped to hit the ground running when he rejoins his Ilkeston teammates later this summer.
“(The move) is finalised, I’ll be going back (to Ilkeston) as soon as the Island Games has finished,” said the Robin Hood man.
“I wasn’t fit and prepared for that level of play when I went there and it took me a while to adjust. By the time I got adjusted I was flying back, so hopefully when I return I’ll be a lot fitter.
“The coach had some words with me and was keen to have me back. He has shown a bit of faith in me and I want to repay that faith.”
Hogges pair Russell and Lejuan Simmons helped Ilkeston to a double cup triumph this season.
Simmons, formerly of Devonshire Cougars, bagged a brace in Ilkeston reserves’ 8-1 thumping of Bromsgrove to lift the Central Conference Cup. The club’s senior side, featuring both Russell and Simmons in the squad, then defeated Matlock 2-1 to claim the Derbyshire Senior Cup.
Earlier this week
The Royal Gazette reported that ex-Dandy Town striker Dante Leverock, 21, would also be joining Ilkeston next season.
Russell’s move further strengthens the burgeoning relationship between Ilkeston and Hogges, whose owner Paul Scope held talks with the club’s chairman Dave Mantle during a recent trip to the UK.
The mutually beneficial agreement could see as many as five young Bermuda players join the club’s fully-fledged Academy each season. Mantle is due to visit the Island later this summer to meet with prospective players and their families.
He said: “I was grateful to Paul for making the time to visit specifically to discuss the logistics of our proposal. We now have a clear pathway for senior players to join Antwan Russell and Lejuan Simmons, who have settled really well at the club.
“We have also further developed the detail concerning the Academy link and expect players from Bermuda to join our Academy in time for the new season.”
Ilkeston’s commercial director Nigel Harrop is a former Bermuda resident, while the club’s assistant coach Darren Caskey played 32 games for Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League.