Danté Leverock does a double take on Bermuda retirement
Danté Leverock has rescinded his retirement from international football after only four weeks and returned to training with the national team.
Kyle Lightbourne, the Bermuda coach, confirmed that the central defender is back involved with the national set-up but would go no farther.
“Danté is back in training with us,” Lightbourne told The Royal Gazette. “I can confirm he is back in training and I have nothing else to add.”
Leverock, who has 23 caps and has scored five times for Bermuda, declined to comment on the reasons for his abrupt announcement on social media to retire in the middle of a World Cup campaign.
The 29-year-old played in the 6-1 defeat by Canada and 5-0 win over Aruba in March, scoring one of the goals, but then as Bermuda prepared for a daunting trip to Surinam, followed by an ultimate dead rubber against group B whipping boys Cayman Islands, he took to social media to pen what can now only be described as a cryptic farewell.
“Thank you for all the memories Bermuda FA, the highs and the lows,” Leverock posted on Facebook in mid-May. “Playing on the biggest stage representing and being captain of my country, there’s no bigger honour.
“The future is so bright for Bermuda football. I can’t wait to see the new heights they reach.”
Those heights would not prove to be imminent, as Bermuda fielded one of its most inexperienced teams on June 4 in a 6-0 loss to Surinam, featuring some calamitous defending in the area where Leverock once held sway — and prominently so during a largely successful Concacaf Gold Cup run in 2019.
That was backed up four days later by an anaemic 1-1 draw with Cayman Islands in Bradenton, Florida, after which Lightbourne declared there would be changes.
Bermuda face Barbados in a one-off Gold Cup preliminary-round fixture on July 2 at the DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with the winner taking on Haiti or St Vincent & the Grenadines for the right to progress to the group stage.
Leverock was back in training with the national squad last night at the National Sports Centre, where he was joined by Nahki Wells.
The Bristol City striker, who has long been a talisman of the Bermuda squad, missed all of the World Cup campaign, significantly the most recent commitment to prioritise rest after an almost non-stop playing spell caused by initially by the disruption to the Sky Bet Championship in the wake of the global pandemic being declared in March 2020 — and then the physical and mental demands of Operation Restart.
Other familiar faces that Lightbourne welcomes back are forwards Zeiko Lewis and Justin Donawa, midfielders Reggie Lambe and Milan Butterfield, who had a difficult season at Chesterfield, defender Jaylon Bather from suspension, and relative newcomer Kane Crichlow from injury.
“We have a lot of players that are available that weren’t available for the World Cup,” Lightbourne said. “The team who played in our previous two matches is not the one who will face Barbados.”
Crichlow, the Watford forward, burst on to the senior international scene, scoring three goals in his first two games for Bermuda in the qualifiers against Canada and Aruba.
“Obviously disappointed to not be involved in the last World Cup qualifiers,” he said. “I am happy to join up with the squad and hopefully I can make my Gold Cup debut and help the team reach the next round. I’m really focused on achieving this goal.”
Lightbourne added: “Kane made a big impact for us in the World Cup qualifiers, so we are looking forward to having him back.”
But the coach may have a decision to make over his next captain, with Lejaun Simmons battling to be fit after his debut with the armband lasted only 19 minutes in Paramaribo before he was carried off on a stretcher having aggravated a groin problem.