Duke takes J-League opportunity

The Central Coast Mariners have announced young striker Mitchell Duke is set to join Japanese J-League outfit Shimizu S-Pulse effective immediately.

Duke is the latest product of the Mariners to progress through their renowned youth system from the club’s Foxtel National Youth League set up, onto the Hyundai A-League and beyond.

The 24-year-old has signed a pre-agreement and will leave for Japan on Tuesday to link up with Shimizu S-Pulse for a training camp to complete his obligatory medical. Pending the result of his medical, Duke will join the Shimizu S-Pulse squad for the club’s 2015 J-League journey.

The striker 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.

During his time with the Mariners Duke was a part of the club’s Hyundai A-League 2012/13 Championship winning season and his form with the yellow and navy also warranted a Socceroos call up where he featured and scored twice in the 2013 EAFF East Asian Cup.

Coach Phil Moss said Duke had worked hard to secure his move to the J-League and the Mariners should be proud of the role it played in producing yet another Australian export to a top international 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.

“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,” Moss said.

Duke was revelling the chance to test himself in the J-League and paid homage to the development, supporters, mates and memories he attained from his time at the Central Coast Mariners.

“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.

“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 gotta 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,” Duke said.