NEW East Thurrock signing Jay Leader has revealed he turned down lucrative offers from higher divisions to sign for John Coventry’s side.

The 24-year-old joined the ranks at Rookery Hill after a profitable two years at Ryman North side Aveley, in which he tasted play-off heartbreak in his first campaign.

Leader, of Dagenham, was widely accepted as one of the most promising talents in the division and had now made the step up to the Ryman Premier, although the jump could have been ever greater.

Conference South side Bishop’s Stortford tried to sign him and so did Ryman Premier league team AFC Hornchurch but Leader opted for Rocks.

“I had a few offers from teams with an impressive pedigree,” admitted Leader, who netted eight goals last season from defence. “It was nice to know teams’ two tiers above were interested. But I spoke to Justin Gardner (Aveley manager) and he said I should speak to Covo and I am so glad I did.”

Coventry told Leader that, despite only surviving relegation on the final day of the season, his side would be challenging at the right end of the table this year, with the play-offs the ambition.

“When Covo was running through the club’s ambitions for the new season I was impressed and bought into it,” said Leader. “Justin told me that would be a good step up for me and Covo seemed keen on me.

“I am confident I can make the step up and believe I could have done well in the Conference South but I believe this is a club that can step up too.

“They are showing their intentions with the players they are bringing in – I played against (Kris) Newby last season and he scored plenty of goals so he is a very good addition.”

Rocks have also added striker Emmanuel Osei, from Leiston, to their ranks for the new campaign and Coventry has made it no secret that he wants to add a few more names in the next couple of weeks.