Dundee United: Ian Harkes leaves grandad speechless by Tannadice 'homecoming'

Ian Harkes in action for DC United
Ian Harkes joined DC United in 2017 after college football

Former United States Under-20 cap Ian Harkes says signing for Dundee United has had the added benefit of delighting a grandfather born next to Tannadice.

The 23-year-old midfielder has signed a two-year contract after being released by Major League Soccer club DC United.

Grandad James is now living in the USA but was born in Fleming Gardens North, close to United's stadium.

"When I was coming, I asked him if he was Dundee or Dundee United and he told he was a Tangerine," Harkes said.

"He was very excited at the news and he couldn't speak due to celebrating. He's been in New Jersey since 25 years old, but he was the one that told me about the history and tradition of the club."

Derby-born Harkes was a regular in the DC United side after he signed in 2017, having finished his his spell with Wake Forest University Demon Deacons by being presented with the Hermann Trophy, awarded to the best college soccer player of the year.

He only played eight times in the 2018 season, but United head coach Robbie Neilson thinks Harkes has "a lot of potential to develop".

"I think it'll take him a little bit of time to settle into the Scottish game," Neilson told BBC Scotland. "But, when he does, I think he'll be a big asset.

"We think he'll add a bit of energy to the midfield."

Harkes becomes the Terrors' second arrival from the USA since American Mark Ogren's December takeover, with Gordon Forrest being appointed assistant head coach after a spell in a similar role at Vancouver Whitecaps.

"We got Gordon Forrest in from the MLS, so he knew him from playing against him," Neilson added.

Find all the latest football transfers on our dedicated page.

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