VANCOUVER, BC – Vancouver Whitecaps FC announced on Thursday that the club has signed Development Squad goalkeeper Chituru Odunze to an MLS contract and transferred him to English Premier League club Leicester City FC. The agreement includes performance bonuses and Whitecaps FC will retain a percentage of any future transfer fees. Odunze has joined the Leicester City FC Academy for their preseason camp in Poland.
Odunze is the ’Caps 18th Homegrown signing in the MLS era and fourth academy product transferred to a European club.
“We are very proud of the player that Chituru has developed into, both on the pitch and off,” said Craig Dalrymple, Whitecaps FC player development and Academy recruitment director. “This is a fantastic opportunity for him, and another milestone for the club in terms of our development structure. In less than a year of the Development Squad, we have already seen Thomas Hasal signed to the first team and now Chituru transferred to a top-tier English club. We wish Chituru all the best in this exciting new challenge.”
Odunze, 16, joins Leicester City FC Academy after a two-week trial in January. The 6-foot-7 goalkeeper originally joined the ’Caps MLS Academy as a 14-year-old from Calgary, Alberta in January of 2017. During his time in the Whitecaps FC BMO Academy System, Odunze made 31 appearances in the Development Academy (DA) league, while also playing a key role with the U-17s at the 2019 Generation adidas Cup.
“It’s a dream come true to take the next step in my career at a big club like Leicester City FC,” said Odunze. “I’m really grateful for everything that Vancouver Whitecaps FC have done for me. I would like to thank the coaches, staff, and my teammates for how they have helped me grow as a player, and especially Raegyn Hall and Jordan Santiago for coaching me as a goalkeeper.”
With the Whitecaps FC Development Squad, Odunze made four appearances, including the full 90 minutes in the June 8 international friendly against South Korean side Daejeon Citizen FC.
At the international level, Odunze – who holds Canadian, United Kingdom, and United States citizenship – has been a regular member of the U.S. U-17 men’s national team, making two starts at the 2019 Concacaf U-17 Championship tournament.
Prior to joining Whitecaps FC, Odunze previously played at Calgary Foothills FC, Calgary Blizzard, and Calgary Villains. Growing up in London, England, he spent three years in the academy of Chelsea FC, and later at Cardiff City FC and West Ham United.
TRANSACTION: Vancouver Whitecaps FC sign goalkeeper Chituru Odunze to an MLS contract and transfer him to English Premier League club Leicester City FC on August 1, 2019.