FC Pune City ropes in midfielder Arata Izumi for ISL

New Delhi:FC Pune City on Wednesday announced the signing of Japanese-born Indian footballer Arata Izumi, who last plied his trade in Indian Super League (ISL) for Atletico de Kolkata. Arata, whose Indian name is Neelkanth Khambolja, started his professional football career in Singapore League followed by a stint in one of the most competitive league in Asia, the Japan Football League representing Mitsubishi Mizushima.  In November 2006, he first entered India, representing East Bengal followed by a two-season spell at Mahindra United. Arata then shifted base to newly promoted I League team Pune FC in 2009. Since then he hasn't looked back. In 2012, he gained Indian citizenship and a few months later he made his India debut also.  In ISL, he represented the Kolkata franchise in 2015 where his two late goals coming in as a substitute against Kerala Blasters stood out the most. Welcoming the midfielder, FC Pune City CEO Gaurav Modwel said, "A very experienced and versatile midfielder, Arata stood out for me among the Indian players in ISL 2 with a tally of five goals. I am extremely excited to have him in the squad and feel he has a critical role to play. Moreover for our supporters, it's an added joy to see him return to Pune." Pune head coach Antonio Habas, who formerly coached the Kolkata franchise, is delighted to rekindle his partnership with Arata. "Arata’s work ethic and commitment to the team he plays for is unparalleled. He is a great reader of the game and has characteristics that will integrate with my style of play. He fits perfectly into our plans for the coming season," Habas said. Expressed his delight at joining Habas, Arata said: "I am very excited about playing for FC Pune City. I’m familiar with coach Habas and have also played a lot of my career in Pune. I am eager to connect with my roaring fans in orange army. So in a lot of ways, it's like home coming for me and I am looking forward to it." Pune co-owner and Bollywood star Hrithik Roshan welcomed Arata saying: "Nothing can replace experience. Arata is a seasoned campaigner with exceptional football skills and his addition will make us a formidable unit."