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Albirex announce historic pair of Singapore signings

S.League champions Albirex Niigata announced their first two local signings on Monday, with Adam Swandi and Shahul Rayyan joining the White Swans.

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The pair will make history as the first Singaporeans to feature for Albirex in the domestic league.

When I was presented the opportunity to sign for Albirex for the 2018 season, I didn’t hesitate

- Adam Swandi

As first reported by FourFourTwo, Adam will swap Home United for title rivals Albirex, after enjoying a breakout year in 2017 with seven goals and two assists in all appearances for the Protectors.

“It is definitely an honour to be signing for the best team in Singapore and being the first two Singaporean players to join Albirex Niigata Singapore FC. 2017 was one of the best seasons for me as a footballer," said Adam in a statement on the club's website.

"When I was presented the opportunity to sign for Albirex for the 2018 season, I didn’t hesitate. These are the type of opportunities that no one knows if it will come round again and I believe that at Albirex, I will be able to develop my football to the next level."

Adam made headlines at the age of 17 by jetting off to France for a two-year stint with FC Metz's youth team back in 2013, before returning to Singapore to serve National Service (NS). He went on to play for the Young Lions for two seasons, before joining Home.

Albirex have been dominant in the local scene over the past two years

“We are extremely pleased that Adam has joined our team this year," said Daisuke Korenaga, Albirex chairman.

I will train very hard so that I can learn from the best team in Singapore and realise my dream of becoming the top goalkeeper in Singapore

- Shahul Rayyan

"We have known Adam since 2012, as he is one of the first Singaporeans we brought to Niigata, Japan for training attachment when he was a student at the Singapore Sports School.

"So it is appropriate that Adam is one of the first two Singaporean players to join Albirex in view of the rule changes for the S.League this season."

Also making the move to the Japanese side is SAFSA goalkeeper Shahul Rayyan.

Currently serving his full-time National Service, Shahul will join the White Swans after his Operationally Ready Date in May.

The 22-year-old Shahul, who previously featured for the Young Lions, Warriors FC and NFL side SAFSA, said: "I also want to thank my family and all my coaches who have helped me in my football career so far.

"I will train very hard so that I can learn from the best team in Singapore and realise my dream of becoming the top goalkeeper in Singapore.”

With the new changes for the 2018 S.League season, it is mandatory for Albirex to have at least nine under-21 players and nine under-23 players in their squad, with one player of any age.

They were also granted an allowance to sign two Singaporeans, with Adam and Shahul now filling these slots.

Photos: S.League