The homecoming continues with another former academy graduate in Yuki Irie
, who has been a member of five clubs since first leaving as a seventeen year-old. After three-year stays in Denmark and Mexico with albæks11 and vaqueros ixtlan respectively, Yuki made his bid for a regular spot with German club 1.FC Marcel, but didn't find the fit he wanted.
This he would get in the Netherlands with The Sheepheads, whose longtime Turkish head coach Ufuk Kaplan saw him as a good foil for the more attacking Folkert Tieschowitz. Upheaval at the club forced an exit, however, and Yuki found a role in the defensive rotation at Swedish Third Division side Bergeforsen Blå, which was however never going to be a permanent post.
Bergeforsen's surplus was to be Djan Bacelar
's steal, as Grilled's Brazilian head coach considered the Japanese-Singaporean a natural to inherit one of Gene Filippone
and Ling Fuquan
's places in the longer term.
"Not only that, Yuki gives us options. He's capable of playing anywhere in defence and midfield, experienced enough to bed in quickly, and at 28, young enough to stick around for awhile yet. It's a hole that at S$1.1 million, has been quite cheaply filled."
While the transfer fee was a bargain by any measure, Irie's wage demands of close to S$80000 a week - making him the second highest-paid player in the squad - brought slight concern. Talk has been that it had discouraged several suitors, including local luminaries St. Xavier's FC and Club Dinosauria, as well as Barbizon Circus (English Division Three) and l'incazzato (Italian Division Eight), but Bacelar appealed for Yuki to be allowed to prove his worth.
"Oh, he will get plenty of opportunity." Bacelar promised. "We have a few very important games coming right up."