VANCOUVER, BC – Vancouver Whitecaps FC announced on Tuesday that the club has acquired winger/forward Bernie Ibini-Isei from Belgian Pro League side Club Brugge KV prior to the close of the 2017 MLS primary transfer window.
Ibini, 24, has agreed to an MLS contract through 2018, with a club option for 2019. He will occupy an international roster spot and officially join the club’s roster pending receipt of his Canadian work permit and medical exam.
Whitecaps FC winger/forward Bernie Ibini
- This season helped Sydney FC win the double – A-League Premiers (best league record) and were crowned A-League Champions with their Grand Final (playoffs) victory last Sunday
- Won the A-League Premiers in 2011-12 and A-League Champions in 2013 with Central Coast Mariners FC
- Scored 31 goals and added 11 assists in 142 matches with A-League sides Central Coast Mariners FC and Sydney FC
- Has two senior international caps for Australia and also played at the U-23 and U-20 levels
“Bernie is an exciting young player with great upside,” said Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson. “He’s big, powerful, and can play as a wide player or as a centre forward. And just as importantly, he’s someone who is hungry and keen to prove himself in Major League Soccer. We look forward to working with Bernie to help him reach his potential.”
Ibini just finished his second loan spell with Australian A-League side Sydney FC, scoring three goals in 20 appearances across all competitions in 2016-17; helping the Sky Blues win both the league and playoffs. The winger/forward played in Sydney’s semifinal win but missed the Grand Final with a hamstring injury. Ibini was on loan from Belgian Pro League side Club Brugge KV, whom he joined in June 2015. He did not play any games with the Blauw-Zwart (Blue-Black), however, after suffering a broken leg in his first preseason with the European club.
Born in Port Harcourt, Nigeria before migrating to Sydney, Australia as a child, Ibini began his football career with semi-professional New South Wales Premier League club Blacktown City FC. In 2009, he signed with Central Coast, initially on their youth side before making his senior debut in February 2010 at the age of 17. During his five seasons with Central Coast, Ibini recorded 21 goals and 10 assists in all competitions, which included 14 appearances in the Asian Champions League from 2009 through 2014, and contributed to his team’s 2011-12 A-League regular season title and 2013 A-League championship.
The right winger, who can also line up on the opposite side or at centre-forward, signed with Shanghai Dongya FC (now known as Shanghai SIPG FC) in 2013; made 10 appearances in the Chinese Super League and started one Chinese FA Cup match.
The following season, Ibini was then loaned back to his former A-League side Central Coast Mariners FC, scoring six goals in 16 appearances in 2013-14.
During his first loan stint with his hometown club Sydney FC, Ibini tallied seven goals and added two assists while starting in all 28 of his appearances, helping Sydney to a runner-up finish in both the league and playoffs during the 2014-15 season.
In international action, the 6-foot-2 forward represented Australia in the 2011 FIFA U-20 World Cup, before making his debut for his adopted country’s senior national team in a pair of friendlies in 2014.