Central Coast Mariners striker Mitchell Duke is set to join Japanese J-League outfit Shimizu S-Pulse effective immediately.
Duke has signed a pre-agreement and will leave for Japan on Tuesday to link up with Shimizu S-Pulse for a training camp.
Pending the result of his medical, the 24-year-old will join the Shimizu S-Pulse squad for the club’s 2015 season.
Duke is the latest product of the Mariners to progress through their youth system to the senior team and beyond.
In heading overseas he joins Mustafa Amini (Borussia Dortmund), Oliver Bozanic (FC Luzern), Mathew Ryan (Club Brugge), Trent Sainsbury (PEC Zwolle), Tom Rogić (Celtic F.C.), Alex Wilkinson (Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors) and Mile Jedinak (Crystal Palace)
Duke has scored on three occasions this season and 16 in total across all competitions since making his debut for the yellow and navy back in the Hyundai A-League 2010/11 season.
Coach Phil Moss said Duke had worked hard to secure his move to the J-League.
“It always gives us as a club, playing and coaching staff great pleasure to have played a role in helping a young player develop his game to a point where it attracts interest from big leagues and the J-League is arguably the biggest in the Asian region" Moss said.
“Mitchell Duke is the next Mariners player to come off the club’s production line and now gets his chance overseas.
"The timing is never great when you lose a key player mid-season, but it gives other players the opportunity to step up and of course, we have Fabio Ferreira ready to go this week.
“It’s a great opportunity for Dukey to take his career to the next level and he goes with our blessing."
Duke is revelling the chance to test himself in the J-League.
“I came through the youth stages of the Mariners for two years and was rewarded with a first team contract, so my time at the Mariners has been unbelievable,"he said.
“I’ve signed a pre-agreement deal and I’ll be going over to Japan on Tuesday to complete a medical so once the medical clears up I’ll be signing a full contract.
“The J-League is a well-respected league all around the world, all you have to do is take a look at the Japanese national team to see the quality players the J-League can produce.
"I’ve got to work my ass off and it’s a huge challenge for me to head overseas and prove myself in another country.
“The boys at the Mariners are unlike any other team, the bond the boys have between each other is on another level, the mates I’ve made now are for life because the Mariners are just so close and it’s been a gift to play at the Mariners.
“I have received nothing but support from the fans and they’ve been amazing since my first professional season in the A-League.
"The Mariners are a community club with a great following and their support towards me over the years has been incredible, so I’d like to say a huge thanks to all the fans and members for making my time at the Mariners so memorable."
The Mariners pulled off a surprise 2-1 win over Adelaide United on Saturday and currently sit in eighth spot on the A-League table, four points adrift of the playoffs.comments