The Lion City Sailors are delighted to announce Croatian defender Toni Datković as the club’s first signing for the 2024/25 Singapore Premier League (SPL) season. The 30-year-old adds to the spine of a side that is determined to reclaim top honours domestically and make a splash regionally in the newly-formed Asian Football Confederation Champions League 2 (ACL2).

Toni joins the Sailors on a season-long contract after recently leaving LaLiga 2 outfit Albacete Balompié, for whom he made eight appearances in the ongoing 2023/24 season. A left-footed centre-back who is strong aerially and comfortable playing the ball out of defence, Toni bolsters a strong Sailors backline that already boasts former Australia World Cup player Bailey Wright, as well as Singapore internationals such as Hariss Harun and Lionel Tan.

Toni brings significant experience from the Spanish second-tier, having amassed a century of appearances in LaLiga 2. The majority of these came in FC Cartagena colours, while he was also part of SD Huesca’s 2019/20 title-winning side that earned promotion to LaLiga the following season.

In a storied playing career to date, Toni has also played in top-tier competitions such as USA’s Major League Soccer with Real Salt Lake and the UEFA Europa League with Greek club Aris Thessaloniki, in addition to being capped once at the international level with Croatia.

“Toni has some great touches and the ability to drive into space with the ball – these are qualities that will help the team grow in our all-round play. Above all, he’s a fierce competitor who demands the absolute best from the teammates around him and has the ability to guide the younger defenders at the club,” Sailors Head Coach Aleksandar Ranković said of his 1.84m new signing.

“I’m already excited at the level of competitiveness that he will bring and that’ll only help us drive higher standards at this club.”

Sailors Sporting Director Badri Ghent added, “It’s no secret that a left-footed centre-back gives the team the balance and a different dimension in terms of building up play from the back, so we’re delighted to have secured Toni’s services.

“His strong mentality and wealth of experience in major leagues will be an asset for us, especially in the ACL2.”

Toni is equally excited to get started and is already looking forward to a fruitful voyage with the Sailors.

“It’s a very ambitious project that the Sailors are trying to build in Singapore and that got me really excited at the prospect of coming here. It’s a very competitive team that wants to challenge for every honour and I want to help the team to become league champions again,” he declared. 

“I think I can help the team with my experience, but at the same time I’m aware that there are already quality foreigners and local players who have played many games for the Singapore national team. I’m here to fight together with the team and hopefully we can achieve history for the club.”