Puri and Nielsen add to international history


With Owen Heary adding both Estonian international Sander Puri and former Danish underage international Morten Nielsen to the Sligo Rovers squad in recent weeks, we take a look back at a selection of the many different non-Irish and UK nationalities that have worn the Bit O'Red throughout the club's history.
Our current first team features predominantly players with Irish and UK passports, with Puri and Nielsen being the first players from their respective countries to represent the Showgrounds side. 
Through the years, Rovers have boasted a wide range of players from as far afield as Australia, Barbados, Morocco, South Africa and the USA. The first 'foreign import' to arrive at the club was Hungarian Seigfried Dobrowitsch who arrived at the Showgrounds in 1949 under the stewardship of then manager Alan Fletcher. 
In 1955 Rovers made a coup by signing Austrian international Albert Straka for an FAI Cup tie against Shamrock Rovers. In dramatic fashion Rovers were awarded a last minute penalty at 2-1 down which Straka put home to force a replay in front of a packed Showgrounds.
The first non-European to sign for the famous Bit O'Red was Gabriel Ojo who arrived in 1965 and was signed by Johnny Robinson. He was then followed by Australian Stuart Robertson who landed in Sligo in 1975. Robertson isn't the only Aussie to have played for Rovers. Willie Hastie, who is fondly remembered for his part in the treble winning side of 1994, signed for the club the year previous. 
Sean Connor snapped up cultured midfielder Adam Hughes from Doncaster Rovers. Hughes, now 32 currently plys his trade with Chinese Super League side Harbin Yeting. Full back James Meredith, a native of Albury spent a few months with the club during the 2007 season. Meredith has since gone on to make over one hundred appearances in English league football and currently plays for Bradford City, while goalkeeper Tomislav Arcaba, who is of Croatian/Australian decent, also played for Rovers during the same campaign.
Bar Ireland, England and Scotland, the countries which have provided Rovers with the most players throughout the years are Holland and the small island of Barbados. 
Seven Oranje players including Jan Vermulm (1990), Daniel Moreno (1996), Peter Cobesson (1997), Johnny Hoeks (1999), Carel van der Velden, Maikel Zaalman (both 2000) and Jalmard Kusten (2005) have taken to the field in Rovers colours.
Meanwhile, no less than five players have arrived from the North American Island with each of them signed by former boss Don O'Riordan. Luther Watson, Ramuel Miller, Riviere Williams, Alvin Rouse and John Straker have all also represented their nation at various levels. 
Sligo Rovers have more recently benefited from the skills of players from nations such as Cameroon, Benin and Haiti. Joseph Ndo, regarded by many as the most talented player to have played on Church Hill, represented Cameroon on 21 occasions and during his time with Rovers, won three FAI Cups, one League of Ireland title, one League Cup and one Setanta Sports Cup. Utility player Romuald Boco, who has amassed 48 caps for Benin, spent three successful stints with Rovers winning two FAI Cups and one League Cup. While Pascal Millien has earned himself 14 caps with Haiti and was also part of the Rovers side which won the Airtricity League Premier Division in 2012. 
Puri and Nielsen are the latest additions to the list of players hoping to bring success to the Showgrounds. Puri has played in Ireland before in a Champions League game for Estonia’s most successful club Levadia Tallinn against Drogheda United and in the 2012 European Championships play-offs against the Ireland national side: “Five years ago or more I remember coming here to play against Drogheda and they beat us. We had a very strong team at that time but we still lost. I can see that it is a quality league in Ireland so it is good to sign here.”

Nielsen also revealed that he has seen Rovers play previously, as he watched the Europa League fixture against Rosenberg: "I actually knew a fair bit about the League of Ireland before. Obviously I lived in England so I saw a lot of Sky Sports. I’ve actually seen Sligo Rovers play a few times because they played in Europe. They actually played in Norway against a few of my friends in Rosenberg so I knew the team already", he said.

Below is a selection of players of different nationalities who have worn the Rovers shirt over the years, with the year they joined the club in brackets. 

Australia - Stuart Roberston (1975), Willie Hastie (1993), Adam Hughes (2006), Tomislav Arcaba and James Meredith (both 2007).

Austria - Albert Straka (1955).
Barbados - Luther Watson, Ramuel Miller, Riviere Williams (all 2002), Alvin Rouse and John Straker (both 2004). 
Benin - Romuald Boco (2008).
Bolivia - Carlos Alvarez (2005).
Bosnia and Herzegovina - Fahrudin Kuduzovic (2005).
Cameroon - Joseph Ndo (2010).
Denmark - Morten Nielsen (2015)
Estonia - Sander Puri (2015)
Haiti - Pascal Millien (2012)
Holland - Jan Vermulm (1990), Daniel Moreno (1996), Peter Cobesson (1997), Johnny Hoeks (1999), Carel van der Velden, Maikel Zaalman (both 2000) and Jalmard Kusten (2005).
Hungary - Seigfried Dobrowitsch (1949) and Zoltan Vasas (2007).
Morocco - Khalid El Khaliffi (1999).
Nigeria - Gabriel Ojo (1965), Ken Otalor (2002) and Choice Aisien (2006).
Poland - Zdenek Jantec (2004) and Piotr Bajdziak (2007).
Portugal - Mauro Almeida (2008).
South Africa - Falcon Rose (1997).
St Vincent and the Grenadines - Wesley Charles (1998)
Spain - Martin Camano (2009).
USA - Michael Angelotti, Arthur 'Skip' Roderick (both 1976), Wally Smith (1978), Nicky Broujos (1989) and Kupuno Low (2005).
Thanks to Joe Molloy for the historical information.

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