Western Sydney Wanderers captain Mitchell Duke has quit the club to move to the Middle East, snubbing " a substantial offer" to stay, the club confirmed today.
Duke, who joined the Red & Black in January 2019, epitomised everything it meant to be a Wanderer - hard-working, selfless and a leader both on-and-off the field.
The Western Sydney local was named captain this season and has represented the club in an inspirational manner, as well as having one of his career-best seasons, scoring 14 goals in 26 matches.
Duke said the decision to take an overseas opportunity was a very difficult one and hopes to one day be reunited with the Wanderers family.
"The offer from the Wanderers made it very difficult for me to make this decision, but I have been presented an amazing opportunity in Asia that is in the best interests of my family and it is one that I couldn’t turn down," explained Duke.
"I will never forget my time here at the Wanderers, it really feels like my club, it has been an honour and dream come true to represent the Red & Black and to be the club captain.
“The time I have spent with this club is something that I will hold close to my heart for the rest of my career.
"I would like to thank the Chairman Mr Paul Lederer, CEO John Tsatsimas and head coach Jean-Paul de Marigny for their belief in me and also all the staff and members who have never stopped supporting me and have now become my Wanderers family.
“I know that if I ever come back to the Hyundai A-league, the Wanderers will be my main priority.
"I wish them all the best in the coming season and I will miss playing for the Red & Black."
CEO John Tsatsimas wished Duke all the best in the next stage of his career.
"Mitch has been an incredible ambassador for our club and has always understood the weight that wearing the Red & Black hoops carries," said Tsatsimas.
"We put in a very strong offer to keep Mitch at the club despite the uncertainty that still surrounds the salary cap for next season.
“Mitch was a player that we knew we wanted to represent the club moving forward, however we understand the current global situation and his decision to pursue what is a very good opportunity for him and his family overseas.
"As an entire Wanderers family, we wish Mitch and his family all the best for his future and hope to someday see him back in the Red & Black."