Stephen Hart moved to strengthen the HFX Wanderer defensive unit in the absence of Peter Schaale with the signing of centreback Duran Lee Tuesday
The 24-year-old Toronto born player joins the club from League1 Ontario team Vaughan Azzurri.
A six-foot-two inch left-sided centreback, Lee was a part of the youth academy of Toronto FC, before moving on to play for Sigma FC for three seasons. Lee played all 180 minutes of Vaughan’s two-legged Canadian Championship Qualifying Round 1 tie against HFX in May.
The Wanderers are his first professional team.
“It’s a fantastic feeling, you work hard for this every day and it’s finally come to fruition,” Lee said. “I want to be a part of the tradition and history of this club.”
Coach Stephen Hart has brought in Lee following the return to school of University draft pick Peter Schaale.
The Wanderers boss got to see for himself the potential of Lee during the club’s Canadian Championship matches against Vaughan.
“Most of all, he was very consistent and I thought he dealt really well with containing Akeem Garcia,” Hart explained. “He was very aggressive in his defending. He reads the game well and he understands the position.”
Lee, who has also played for the University of Connecticut and college teams in Texas and Kansas, said he’s excited to be moving to Halifax having been blown away by the Wanderers Grounds atmosphere when he visited with Vaughan.
“From start to finish the fans were amazing. All the players thought it was a true soccer stadium and at half time I did a couple of keep ups with one of the ball girls,” Lee said.
The defender said York9 coach Jimmy Brennan deserves a lot of credit for his development during the time both were at TFC.
Stephen Hart believes Lee can handle the step up to the Canadian Premier League after seeing his other ex-Vaughan players Matthew Arnone and Tomasz Skublak shine for the Wanderers.
Lee says he’s keen to get started in Halifax and show the fans what he can do.
“I’m there to help the team in any way possible. I’m a player who loves to defend, lots of defenders like to attack but I appreciate the defensive work,” he said.
Hart said the timing of the signing is important and brings more depth to the team for the CPL’s Fall season race.
“With Peter Schaale leaving and Chakib Hocine not getting back to full fitness and struggling with his injuries, we thought it was a position we needed to fill,” Hart said.
Duran Lee will arrive in Halifax on Thursday to complete a medical for his new team.
The Wanderers are getting ready to welcome him to the next home match by playing “Hungry Like The Wolf” after hearing he’s actually named for 80’s band Duran Duran.
“My parents grew up listening to the band and that’s their favourite song,” he said.