Jubilant Jerusalem thrilled with return to European competition

May 27, 2015 01:37

“If there will be an Arab player who will fit the team and will want to join us, I will sign him," Beitar owner Tabib says.

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Beitar Jerusalem players celebrating

Beitar Jerusalem players celebrating. (photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)

The last time Beitar Jerusalem played in Europe, it had just won its second straight Premier League championship, Arkadi Gaydamak was still the club’s all-powerful owner and Ehud Olmert was the Prime Minister of Israel.

A lot has obviously happened since the summer of 2008 leading up to Beitar securing its place in the Europa League next season with Monday’s 3-0 win over champion Maccabi Tel Aviv.

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Beitar wrapped up fourth place in the standings by opening a four-point gap over Maccabi Haifa with only one match to play, completing its revival under coach Guy Levy.

Beitar seemed to be heading for another lost season in February when owner Eli Tabib sacked coach Menahem Koretzki with the team in fourth place, but just seven points above relegation.

However, Tabib’s decision to bring in Levy is looking like a genius appointment, with the squad playing better than the sum of its parts and booking its return to continental action for the first time since the 2008/09 Champions League qualifiers.

Everything changed at the club ahead of the following season when Gaydamak pulled the plug on his generous funding.

Beitar passed on its place in Europe, earned by virtue of its State Cup triumph, due to its financial struggles and years of uncertainty have followed.

Despite the optimism at Teddy Stadium on Monday, there are still many question marks hanging over the club’s prospects for next season. All the preparations for 2015/16 are on hold until Tabib announces his plans.

“I will announce my decision next week,” Tabib said on Monday.

“I’ve been through a lot in Israeli soccer and my family is pressuring me to leave.”

Tabib also said that if he stays at the club, he will fight the racist minority among the team’s fans. “I fought the racist fans when I was at Hapoel Tel Aviv and I will do the same at Beitar,” he explained.

“If there will be an Arab player who will fit the team and will want to join us, I will sign him.”

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