Albirex's best year after recruiting experienced players
Change in policy sees White Swans sign experienced players and enjoy their best season
They have been rising steadily since their debut in Singapore football in 2004, and are now established as one of the Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League's most consistent teams.
Yet, prior to 2015, Albirex Niigata only had one trophy in their cabinet - the 2011 League Cup.
All that changed this year in what proved to be a memorable campaign for the White Swans, as they lifted The New Paper League Cup in July and capped off the season by winning the RHB Singapore Cup last month.
Albirex chairman Daisuke Korenaga dedicated the Cup double to all those involved with the club throughout its existence.
"The 2015 season is our 12th year since the establishment of the club," he told The New Paper.
"The number 12 also symbolises the 12th player, our supporters.
"This is good time to show gratitude, and I am glad to be able to repay our sponsors, supporters, and people in Yuhua SMC, Niigata and Japan for always supporting us.
"We have had a lot of difficulties but we managed to overcome them thanks to this support, so this double is for our supporters."
While it has been Albirex's most successful campaign - the club also finished third in the S.League - coach Tatsuyuki Okuyama believes his side must aim higher.
He said: "Our target at the start of the season was to win all three competitions and that didn't change throughout the year.
"We wanted to win the S.League, too, so it's still something we can reflect on.
"Of course, as a club, titles are very important and it was good that we won two Cups."
In previous years, Albirex adopted the stance of grooming promising young Japanese players by giving them the opportunity to play professional football in Singapore.
However, their priorities took a significant change in direction at the start of the year when they announced they were out to mount a seriously challenge for silverware, leading to the signings of goalkeeper Yosuke Nozawa and playmaker Fumiya Kogure - two players with plenty of J.League experience.
Nozawa went on to establish himself as one of the best goalkeepers in Singapore, while Kogure was named the S.League's Player of the Year after a stellar season.
Hailing the decision to sign the two key men, Okuyama also highlighted the significance of the League Cup triumph on their confidence during their Singapore Cup run.
"I knew what Nozawa and Kogure are like and I always believed in them…
"They are able to realise what I want and guide the younger players, even when I don't say anything.
"They have very good characters and it's important for our younger players to learn from them.
"When we won the League Cup, the younger players saw how much it meant to them to be champions, and that helped us a lot as they really wanted to win again when we had the chance to do so in the Singapore Cup."
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