J-League's Niigata recruits Oceania teenager

A young Oceania Football Confederation player has made a rare breakthrough in the big money world of the Japan J-League with 18-year-old Micheal Fitzgerald being offered a professional contract with third-placed J-League club Niigata Arbilex. Fitzgerald, who hails from Auckland, New Zealand, has been in Japan for nearly three years and playing for Seiritsu High School Soccer Academy as a scholarship player. After being spotted by a Niigata scout, he was invited to the club for a week's trial. He joined in first team training for a week and was then offered the professional contract. Fitzergald is a graduate of the Wynrs academy, a football school in Auckland run by ex-All White and Oceania player of the century Wynton Rufer, the first New Zealander to play in the J-League.