Albirex's 2011 League Cup winners: Where Are They Now?

Given their total dominance of local football in recent times - the quadruple last year and the possibility of a repeat this season, it is almost incredible that Albirex Niigata took seven years since joining the S.League in 2004 to win their maiden trophy. Ahead of next Saturday’s Singapore Cup final, FFT traces the thereabouts of that history-making 2011 side… 

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Yoshito Matsushita

After four successful conversions by Albirex and Hougang in the final, the then 21-year-old dived low to his right to parry Jordan Webb’s effort – ending the tight affair as his side won 5-4 on penalties after a 0-0 stalemate.

That proved to be Matsushita’s fourth and final season with the White Swans as he moved back to native Japan to play for regional league side Arterivo Wakayama in 2012.

He moved on to Grulla Morioka that mid-season and stayed for two and a half seasons, before joining another regional side ReinMeer Aomari in 2015.

Matsushita retired the following year and the 28-year-old is now goalkeeper coach for the Under-15s at a community-based club called Skado Diplomats FC.

Ryuta Hayashi

Standing at just 1.66m, the Albirex no. 2 made up for his small stature with his superb stamina and ability to cover ground.

Hayashi featured regularly for the White Swans on the right side of defence from 2009 to 2011, before leaving for Japanese Regional League side AS Laranja Kyoto the following season.

He then moved to J2 side FC Gifu but played mainly for the reserves, before leaving for Germany to join sixth-division side MSV Pampov in 2014.

The 27-year-old was on the club’s books for two and half years before leaving in July 2016. He is currently without a club…

Norihiro Kawakami

At the heart of that Albirex defence was this classy left-footer, who possessed the ability to bring the ball forward confidently, along with other key attributes.

Kawakami took over the White Swans captaincy in his second season in 2012, with his impressive performances catching the eye as he joined Geylang United (now Geylang International) the following year.

His stock rose further as he joined then-champions Tampines Rovers in 2014, but a failure to recapture that form saw him being released midway through and he saw out the rest of the campaign back with Albirex.

He then joined Thai second division side Trat FC in 2015, before going back to Japan the following year to join J3 side SC Sagamihara. The 30-year-old turns out Tegevajaro Miyazaki in the local regional league these days…