ISL 2018: Ex-Kerala Blasters, ATK star Arata Izumi retires from professional football
What's the story?
Former Indian footballer and ex-Kerala Blasters midfielder Arata Izumi has called time on his career and is set to use his experience in a role as a coach, as confirmed by the star himself on his official Instagram and Facebook handles.
Izumi, who represented East Bengal before shifting his focus to the Indian Super League where he represented ATK, FC Pune City and Kerala Blasters for one season each.
In case you didn't know...
Born in Shimonoseki in Japan, Izumi started his professional footballing career with Albirex Niigata Singapore as part of the Singapore Premier League, before he earned an Indian citizenship in August 2012. Izumi has represented India at the 2013 SAFF Championship and the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup.
The heart of the matter
Izumi's tryst with Indian sports club started way back in 2006 when he signed up with East Bengal as part of the National Football League before a Durand Cup victory with Mahindra United in 2007 saw him earn a contract with Pune FC ahead of the I-League season, a season in which he was named as the 'best midfielder' with 10 goals and as many assists.
A continued alliance with Pune City for the next six seasons saw Izumi emerge as one of the best midfielders in the ISL as he soon shifted to ATK as part of the 2015 season on loan and scored 5 goals from 11 matches. In 2017, Izumi signed for NEROCA for the I-League but did not make a single appearance which saw him shift sides to Kerala Blasters for the 2017/18 season of the Indian Super League and was an imperative part of the Blasters' midfield.
The 35-year-old, who opted to hang up his boots, thanked all his supporters for taking his side throughout his illustrious career and also mentioned that he was going to start the second chapter of his association with football, this time, not as a player but as a mentor.
Arata's handy play will be sorely missed on the field, but he will hope to bring all his experience into play when he assumes the role of the coach as part of the Reliance Foundation Young Champs, a platform for the youngsters from the U12, U13, U14 and U16 categories.