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Ex-United hotshot one of five new Derry signings

 

By Adam McKendry

Derry City have swooped for a former Manchester United youth star the Red Devils once paid £1million for when he was just 14 years old.

Ghanaian-born English striker John Cofie has been tempted to the League of Ireland by manager Kenny Shiels as the Candystripes look to improve on last season's third-placed finish.

The former Old Trafford prospect, now 24, was signed by United from Burnley in 2007 for £1million after some fine displays for the youth teams.

He also made waves in Northern Ireland, featuring for United in the 2010 Milk Cup and scoring a spectacular curling effort against Shamrock Rovers.

However, Cofie failed to live up to expectations in Manchester and was released by the club in 2012 after disappointing loan spells with Belgian side Antwerp and Sheffield United.

The striker then bounced around several clubs, including Barnsley, Molde and Crawley Town before eventually finding himself in England's non-leagues, where again he failed to find a steady home, featuring for no less than eight clubs over the course of two years.

Cofie was last on the books of Stalybridge Celtic, currently in the Northern Premier League, before Derry City approached him over to the Brandywell for next season.

The former Red Devil headlines five new signings ahead of the new season as boss Kenny Shiels overhauls his squad, with the manager excited to work with his new forward.

"He is the youngest ever million-pound player at aged 14, Manchester United bought him then he went to Royal Antwerp, Barnsley and Southport. He's now 24 and it is a good opportunity for him and for me to resurrect his career," explained Shiels.

Also making the move back to the League of Ireland are centre-backs Gavin Peers - formerly of St Pat's and Sligo Rovers - and Armin Aganovic, who was previously with Galway United.

Shiels continued: "Gavin Peers brings experience and organisation. He knows the league and he is something we haven't got - his experience and organisational skills will lend himself to our needs.

"Aganovic played for Galway the year before last, I tried to sign him and Cork tried to sign him.

"He's 23 and a very good player with experience and he is ideal for what we are about."

Attacking midfielder David Hopkirk, who was on trial with the club at the end of last season, and American midfielder Conor Agnew also make the switch to the Candystripes.

"I tried to sign David when I was at Morton, he's a player I have always been interested in.

"He is signed and ready to come in and play in January," Shiels added.

"Conor is a dynamic midfield player who offers a different type of play to what we currently have and I think it will work well for us."

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