“I grew up in Liverpool so coming back to the Western Sydney Wanderers was an easy decision.”
They are the words of Mitchell Duke who signed an 18-month contract with the red and black on Friday.
Duke announced his decision via a video on the club’s website where he surprised his parents wearing the club’s colours.
The winger returns to Australia following a four year stint in Japan with Shimizu S-Pulse where he played more than 100 matches for the club.
Moving closer to family was a key drawcard for the 28-year-old, who grew up playing for the Liverpool Rangers and the Parramatta Eagles before his professional start with the Central Coast Mariners eight years ago.
Duke was part of the Mariners team that defeated the Wanderers 2-0 on the 2013 grand final. “There’s always been a small part of me that wanted to play at the club at some point in my career so coming back from spending the last four years in Japan was a very easy decision for me,” he said.
“A big part of the reason to come back to Australia was my family and the football level, and there’s no better place for me to play than at my home. This club is my hometown club.
“It’s a proud moment for me and my parents are so happy for me.”
Duke, who has four Australian caps to his name, said he had “grown a lot” in his time in Japan and wanted to be a leader on the pitch for the young brigade during a difficult period for the club.
"I feel like now that I’m 28, I want to be a leader at the club and I want to help lead and teach the young boys so as to help them grow as footballers,” he said.
“That’s a big thing for me, when I was a bit younger I was a bit more stand-offish and now I know what’s expected. I want to push the boys to a whole other level with what I’ve learnt overseas.
“The J-League is the top league in Asia, probably the best, and spending the last four years over there I was proud I could achieve that.
“Some players go there and don’t last long, so I was proud to get over 100 appearances at the club in Japan because it’s hard to do.