Vancouver Whitecaps FC announced today the signing of Gambian striker Mustapha Jarju as the club’s second Designated Player - pending his international transfer certificate. Per club policy, terms of the contract were not disclosed.
“Mustapha is a proven goalscorer at the club level in Europe," said Whitecaps FC president Bob Lenarduzzi. "He has pace and the ability to find the back of the net with regularity, as he did during his successful spell in Belgium. Mustapha will be a great addition to our strike force."
Jarju joins Whitecaps FC after three successful seasons with Belgian club Royal Albert-Elisabeth Club (RAEC) de Mons. Last season, the native of Banjul, Gambia, helped RAEC Mons win promotion to Belgium's top-flight Jupiler Pro League after two seasons in the Belgian Second Division. During the 2010-11 season, the 24-year-old scored 25 goals and added 13 assists in all competitions, including 18 goals in 33 league matches, four goals in six playoff games, and three goals in two Belgian Cup matches. During his three years with RAEC Mons, the 6-foot, 160-pound striker scored 43 goals in 118 appearances.
"I am very happy to begin the next stage of my career with Vancouver Whitecaps FC and play in one of the rising leagues in the world in MLS,” added Jarju. “I had many options throughout Europe and the Middle East, but Whitecaps FC made me feel very welcome and the city is beautiful. Recently, I have watched several matches and believe the club is ready to push for the playoffs.”
Prior to his time with RAEC Mons, Jarju scored 26 goals in two seasons with Belgium's Lierse SK. This included ten goals during the 2006-07 Jupiler Pro League season. Before moving to Belgium, Jarju played with Gambian clubs Reggae Boys, Wallidan, Racing Star, and Steve Biko FC.
Internationally, Jarju is alternate captain of the Gambian national team and has scored four goals in 25 senior appearances, primarily as midfielder, for the West African nation. Jarju also appeared for The Gambia at youth international level, where he was captain of his country's U-17 and U-20 national teams, and was also a member of their U-23 Olympic squad.
Whitecaps FC host Real Salt Lake in Major League Soccer on Saturday, July 16, at 1 p.m. PT and English Premier League giants Manchester City FC, as part of the Herbalife World Football Challenge 2011, on the following Monday, July 18, at 7 p.m. PT. Tickets for both matches are available at all Ticketmaster Ticket Centres, online at ticketmaster.ca, or Charge-by-Phone at 1.855.6.GO-CAPS (1.866.646.2277).
Born: July 18, 1986, in Banjul, Gambia
Last Club: RAEC Mons (Belgian Second Division)
About Vancouver Whitecaps FC
In 1974, Vancouver Whitecaps FC played their inaugural season in the North American Soccer League, and in 1979, the club won the NASL Soccer Bowl championship. From 1987 to 1992, as a member of the Canadian Soccer League, Vancouver won four straight CSL titles. In 2002, Whitecaps FC created a full club model that encompasses professional teams for men and women, extensive youth development and grassroots participation programs, facility development, and the Whitecaps Foundation to support specific initiatives related to health and wellness through soccer. Since 2004, Whitecaps FC have won two United Soccer Leagues First Division championships and two USL W-League championships. This year, Whitecaps FC began their inaugural season in Major League Soccer at Empire Field and will move to Bell Pitch Downtown at BC Place Stadium in early October.