DUNDEE’S new signing, Brent Sancho, believes the experience of losing close friends in the terrorist atrocity of 11 September has helped him earn a dream move to Europe.
Sancho has signed a two-year deal with the Dens Park side after impressing manager Jim Duffy in two matches during Dundee’s winter break trip to Trinidad in January. However, it was the events of two years ago that made the Trinidad and Tobago defender focus on earning a move across the Atlantic. The 26-year-old once worked as a shoe salesman in the World Trade Centre and lost a number of close friends during the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks.
Despite living in New York for almost a decade, Sancho refused to let the tragedy overshadow his life and channelled all his energies into football.
"I worked at a shoe store in the World Trade Centre when I was at college in the late Nineties, and lost some good friends on 9/11," Sancho said.
"I lived in New York for nine years and could see the impact that day had on the city - it seemed as though everyone knew someone that was affected by it. I’ve had a lot of tribulations in my life, but I think I’ve used them to become a stronger person and it has definitely made me focus more on my career in football.
"What happened to my friends on 9/11 has made me appreciate what I’ve got, but it also made me more determined to be a success and win a move to Europe."
Sancho has experienced European football before, having spent a season with Finnish side Mypa 47, but believes his move to Dens is the one he has been looking for.
After leaving Finland, the defender returned to the United States to play for Portland Timbers before catching Duffy’s eye this year. Several other clubs were interested in bringing the player to Europe, including Swiss side FC Zurich, but Sancho admitted that after meeting Duffy and the rest of his new team-mates there was only going to be one team for him.
"From the minute I met up with the manager and the rest of the guys I liked them and knew this was the place for me," he said.
Sancho is short of match fitness after missing out on Dundee’s pre-season trip to North Carolina, but may still travel with the rest of the squad for this weekend’s friendlies against Kettering Town tonight and Northampton on Saturday.
Meanwhile, former Dundee and Dundee United striker Jim Hamilton will be unveiled as Ross County’s eighth summer signing today - delivering a blow to rivals Inverness.
The 27-year-old, who has also played for Hearts, Aberdeen and Dunfermline Athletic, is trying to revive his career after failing to win a deal at East End Park late last season.
Hamilton, 27, teams up again with Alex Smith as well as a legion of former Tannadice team-mates including David Hannah, Jamie McCunnie, Stephen O’Donnell and David Winters.
Hamilton began his career with Highland League side Keith before signing for Dundee, then Hearts in 1996 before moving to the Dons for £300,000 in March 1999. He left to join United for about half that sum after failing to impress Ebbe Skovdahl, but suffered the first serious injuries of his career while at Tannadice.
Former Ross County manager Neale Cooper last night made his first signing for new club Hartlepool United - the son of Scotland legend Joe Jordan. Cooper took charge at the English second division side in the summer and he has moved to snap up former Scotland Under-21 defender Andrew Jordan on a one-year deal.
Jordan has had spells at both Cardiff City and Bristol City, but was released by the Welsh club at the end of last season.
Another player who could be moving to the English second division is former Rangers winger Andrei Kanchelskis, who has joined side Brighton for pre-season training. The 33-year-old has completed a three-month contract with Saudi Arabian side Al-Hilal, after an ill-fated spell at Southampton, but is keen to earn another contract with a British club.
Freed Motherwell defender Tony Vaughan has signed for English minnows Mansfield Town. The 27-year-old centre-back has spent the past month on trial at Field Mill and impressed manager Keith Curle.
Livingston defender Julian Maidana will return home to Argentina tomorrow, despite having six months left on his contract at Almondvale. The 31-year-old former Racing Club centre-half joined Livingston in January on a 12-month deal, playing 12 games prior to the end of the season.
However, he has found a club back home in South America and could make a final appearance for the West Lothian outfit at some point during tonight’s friendly with York City.
Partick Thistle goalkeeper Jakup Mikkelsen is set to start the season as No1 with Kenny Arthur unlikely to be fit for the opening game against Livingston. The Faroe Islands international put pen to paper on a one-year deal with the Jags last week having impressed in a friendly against Morton.
Scotland squad goalkeeper Arthur played in a match against Cumbernauld on Monday night, but is still not fully fit following a knee operation.
Gretna have brought teenage striker Gary Cohen on board from Scarborough. The 19-year-old ex-Watford player scored two goals in his debut - a 3-0 win over Workington Town - just hours after signing.