The Solomon Islands wonderkid Raphael Lea’i has now become the country’s first international professional football player signed by a European club.
Lea’i will now become an important part of FK Velez Mostar, a professional football club based in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina. The club has a history of being one of the most successful clubs from Bosnia and Herzegovina. It was founded on 26 June 1922.
The club announced on its Facebook page to all its members, fans, and friends of the club that Raphael Ohanua Lea'i Jr has officially “become our club’s new player.”
“In the presence of the director of the Velez Football Club Sanjin Alagic, on Friday in the official premises of the Club, and after a successful trial in which he met the criteria of Velez's professional staff, a contract was signed that will bind this nineteen-year-old naval player from the Solomon Islands until 31 May 2024, with the possibility of extending the contract for another year,” a statement from the FK Velez Mostar reads.
Raphael Ohanua Lea'i Jr. was born on September 9, 2003 in Honiara, Solomon Islands. He grew up at Henderson Eels FC where he played in the OFC Champions League, the Oceania International Cup. Lea’i also played for the Solomon Islands U17, U19, and the national squad.
“We wish our new born a lot of happiness, health and mutual success in the coming period. Welcome to Velez, Raphael,” the statement concludes.