Immanuelson (Manny) Duku has completed a dream move to the Football League, signing a two-year contract with Cheltenham Town for an undisclosed transfer fee from Isthmian League South Central Division side Hayes & Yeading United.
25-year-old striker Duku, who stands at 6 foot 3” was born in Amsterdam, Holland, and has enjoyed a prolific spell with Hayes & Yeading United, scoring 39 goals in 50 appearances during the 2017-18 season.
Strong but also possessing pace, Duku broke the club’s record for goals in a season, which was previously held by Josh Scott, who netted 25 times during a campaign before moving on to play for Dagenham & Redbridge in League Two and League One.
Duku began his career in his native Holland with SC Heerenveen, whom he joined at the age of 18, playing in the club’s second team.
After leaving the club and playing local football in Holland, Duku decided to move to England to pursue a football career and be closer to his mother. One of eight children and with parents of Ghanaian heritage, Duku initially signed for Chesham United in the summer of 2015. However, after a few outings, he joined Hemel Hempstead Town. After just a couple of weeks with manager Dean Brennan’s side, he joined Kings Langley, which is where Duku began to lay some roots and the foundations for his career in English football.
Under the stewardship of former Chelsea, Southampton and Luton Town midfielder Paul Hughes – the joint manager of Kings Langley – he helped the club to win the league title. However, Hughes left to join Hayes & Yeading United the following season and Duku soon departed, joining Southern Premier League side Banbury United, where he was close to helping the club reach the play-offs.
At the end of the campaign, former manager Paul Hughes contacted him about linking up with him at Hayes & Yeading United and he penned a two-year contract at Beaconsfield Road in the summer of 2017.
His record at the club spoke for itself, with Duku firing 39 goals in 50 appearances and his form alerted the attentions of a host of clubs but it is League Two outfit Cheltenham Town who have won the race for his signature after agreeing an undisclosed transfer fee with Hayes & Yeading United.
Cheltenham Town manager Gary Johnson said: “We’re delighted to bring Manny to the Robins. He’s a great lad who scored a lot of goals last season and who is determined to take this chance.
“He’s 25-years-old so he’s not a young lad finding his way. He had a terrific season last year and we feel he’s ready to come into the Football League.
“Manny has only been over here for three years from Holland, but his English is excellent, he is very humble and very athletic. A goal scorer is a goal scorer as Mo Eisa proved last season.”
ACHIEVE Director Dave Garley said: “Immanuelson thoroughly deserves this chance; he is a very nice person who has worked hard and has had a great season at Hayes & Yeading United and he came to England to follow a dream of becoming a professional footballer and he has now achieved that goal.
“He has strength and pace in abundance and he certainly knows where the back of the net is! He has all of the attributes to become a real old-fashioned ‘number 9’ centre forward, which is always going to be in high demand to clubs. He must continue to work hard and listen to the advice from Gary Johnson, who has nurtured some wonderful players over the years.
“We would like to thank Paul Hughes and Hayes & Yeading United Football Club for allowing Immanuelson the opportunity to fulfil his ambition to become a professional footballer. The whole process was very quick and huge credit must go to the club for that.
“There is no doubt that Immanuelson has progressed considerably under Paul’s management. We actually used to watch Paul play regularly for Luton Town, where he won promotion and was a cultured midfield player and Immanuelson has learned a great deal from someone who played at the very top of English football for Chelsea and Southampton.
“We would also like to thank Gary and Peter Johnson at Cheltenham Town for giving Immanuelson this opportunity and for their belief in him. We are very excited at the prospect of seeing Immanuelson cause some headaches for opposing defences this season!
“We wish Immanuelson, Cheltenham Town and Hayes & Yeading United every success this coming season.”
You can see a highlights video of Immanuelson Duku courtesy of Sam Page below…