York9 FC’s Fugo Segawa has added another country to his small but ever-growing soccer resume.
After playing as a youth in his native Japan, Segawa set his professional career in motion when he travelled to England at age 15, which makes his recent life-changing cross-continental move to the Canadian Premier League seem rather small.
“I was 15 when I had a chance to leave for England (to attend an academy run by the National Sports Centre)… I didn’t even really think about it, no second thoughts” Segawa told CanPL.ca about leaving Japan at a young age.
“I wanted to play in Europe as a child. That’s all I wanted.”
Now 22, he has already played in four different European countries, and is set to take part on the CPL’s season.
Segawa is incredibly travelled considering his age. You can hear it in his voice, with English, Japanese, and even some Scandinavian intonation seeping through.
“Looking for options in Europe as well, but it wasn’t something I wanted.”
“I knew this would be a good opportunity for me – leaving Europe and getting to a new continent. I got a lot of perspective from people; England, Spain, Finland, Sweden,” Segawa said of his experiences playing abroad.
Segawa signed with Y9 after being identified by the CPL’s centralized scouting system of young internationals (age 23 and under), which is run by the league’s soccer operations department and the 21st Club, a world-class data and analytics group with offices in London, San Francisco and Singapore.
Described as a forward-thinking fullback, Segawa arrives at York9 after making 19 appearances last year in Finland’s second-tier, plus another five in the Finnish Cup. The year prior, Segawa featured in the Finnish top-tier with RoPS, playing alongside HFX Wanderers defender Jems Geffard in the backline.
Y9 coach Jimmy Brennan has voiced his confidence in the young fullback, specifically on settling in Toronto.
Brennan also highlighted an obvious 2020 squad conundrum: Segawa, primarily a left fullback, will compete with Best U-21 Player of the Year nominee Diyaeddine Abzi for playing time.
There is flexibility, of course. Both players can play further up the pitch, with Abzi only recently switching to left fullback.
“He gives us another option on the left-hand side,” Brennan said. “Diyaeddine Abzi cemented that position last season, he was good going forward and defensively, he’s improved an awful lot, but we need players to come in and fight for positions, and this is going to get the best out of Abzi and Fugo.”
When asked what he expects from his 2020 season, Segawa kept the narrative open-ended, while accepting the challenge of fighting for playing time with one of the CPL’s best.
“There is good competition wherever you go. Abzi is very talented, especially for his age. But, as a player, you want to play and you want to work as hard as you can to do so,” Segawa said.
“So, let’s just see.”