Mark McKenzie to Belgium is official.
The 21-year-old homegrown center back from Bear, Del. is heading to KRC Genk after the Philadelphia Union agreed to a multi-million transfer fee plus performance-based bonuses with the Belgium Pro League club. The Union will also retain a percentage of any future transfer fees for the defender.
The team did not release dollar figures of the deal but it’s reportedly around $6 million.
“Before working towards my goal of playing in Europe I remember sitting in the stands watching my home team, the Union, and hoped that one day I’d get the chance to play for my city in front of my family, friends, and fans. I am so thankful to have been given the chance to do so,” said McKenzie in a news release. “I wouldn’t have gotten to where I am and have this opportunity to further my career without my coaches, my family, and the Philadelphia Union fans. I am so appreciative to everyone who has dedicated their time, knowledge, love and put their faith in me. I specifically want to thank God, my family, the club, and the city. The city and the Union will always be a part of me, and the future looks nothing but bright for myself and this club.”
McKenzie, who was born in Bronx, N.Y. but moved to Delaware at age 5, joined the Union Academy U14 team in their first season in the Development Academy in 2013 after playing locally for Delaware Rush and Wilmington Rangers. He attended Wake Forest University for one year before turning professional as a Union homegrown.
He joins homegrown Brenden Aaronson, who recently joined Red Bull Salzburg in Austria, as the second homegrown player to fetch a multi-million transfer agreement abroad.
“This is the right step for both Mark and for the club, as our young talent continues to make strides within our organization,” said Sporting Director, Ernst Tanner, in a news release. “With two record transfers over the past few months, it further solidifies our belief in our ideology of developing young players through our academy with an end goal of producing mature, intelligent athletes like Mark who are capable of leading us to trophies and competing against the very best in the world.”