Northern League Division Two outfit, Durham City, have pulled off a major coup with the announcement of their new manager.
Durham, who have played their home games ‘on the road’ for the past six years or so, have taken another step on the upwards trajectory scale with the announcement that former Glasgow Celtic and Aston Villa player, Didier Agathe, is their new manager.
Agathe, 44, joins the two-time Northern League champions having spent the past decade setting up, and running, a footballing academy at JS Saint-Pierroise on the island of Reunion, where he was born.
Following spells in France early in his career Agathe soon found himself plying his trade north o’ the border, in Scotland and Raith Rovers, scoring a handful of goals in his maiden season before a brief spell at the start of 2000-01 campaign with SPL side, Hibernian, again finding the net on several occasions.
Those early appearances for Raith and Hibs were enough to alert Scottish giants, Glasgow Celtic, to his presence and Agathe was soon making his way to Parkhead, where he would make his name.
Spending the next six years donning the green-and-white hoops of Celtic, Agathe claimed three Scottish title (2001, 2002, and 2006) whilst also helping the club to the 2003 UEFA Cup final, losing out to Jose Mourinho-inspired Porto side 3-2, playing the full ninety minutes of the Seville final.
Upon departing Celtic Agathe would end up in the Midlands, alongside former Celtic manager Martin O’Neill, at Aston Villa, making six appearances in the Premier League (no starts) before being released and returning home to Reunion.
Fast-forward thirteen years and Agathe has wound up in Northern England, in his first management post, at Durham City.
Speaking of his arrival in the quaint, northern city, who play their games at nearby Hall Lane, Willington, Agathe said of his appointment: “It’s a great challenge and a great club.
“This is a really exciting project to be involved in.
“The club is looking to build on and off the pitch and I’m really looking forward to playing a big part in this journey.
“I’m really excited about this role, I’ve been coaching since my retirement, working with my Academy for over 10 years and I’m excited to transfer my knowledge and experience to build a fantastic academy for Durham City.
“I’m looking to build something here based on discipline, commitment and hard work.
“I want to build an exciting team that will win games and bring back the fans to Durham.
“There are good players here, we are in the process of adding some players to complement the current squad and I can’t wait to get working with them.”
Both Chairman Gary Hutchinson, and Director of Football John Woolnough, are excited to bring Agathe to a club who spent the season just finished, languishing at the foot of the Northern League Second Division.
Making strides to progress both on, and off the field, playing-wise, academy, and a new home, Durham City’s future has the promise to be a bright one.
Once a Football League side themselves, they resided in the Third Division North between 1921 and 1928, there is aspirations for the club to return to a higher level of competition, and, in turn, winning trophies, the last of which was over a decade ago itself (Northern Premier League Division One North, 2009).
Discussing the recent appointment Mr Woolnough added: “This is a fantastic appointment for Durham City.
“Didier is a very well-regarded coach and will help to catapult the club forward.
“We’ve spoken a lot already about the priorities and I think we’re both very forward thinking and open minded and it should be a good positive relationship.”
Whilst Durham Chairman Mr Hutchinson said: “The club would like to thank Director of Football John Woolnough for his efforts in this appointment.
“It’s been a great effort to get this over the line and I would like to thank everyone for their patience.
“I am hoping this appointment will move the club to the next level and beyond, it’s not going to happen overnight but believe it’s a big step in the right direction.”