There is little doubt that Robert Earnshaw has one of the more impressive
resumes in the Israeli Premier League.
However, with almost a third of
the season already elapsed, the 31- year-old Welsh striker has made little to no
impact on Maccabi Tel Aviv’s charge for the championship.
registered just five league appearances in three months, starting in a single
match and scoring a sole goal.
Niggling injuries and the form of fellow
forwards Eliran Atar and Gonzalo Garcia have significantly limited his
opportunities, but Earnshaw remains upbeat.
“I got a couple of little
injuries at the wrong time that have not helped. It’s just something that
happens in football,” he told me earlier this week. “I’ve trained well over the
last week and I hope I can be healthy and play a lot of games.
what I’m fighting for. I think that if I can play you will see the best in
Earnshaw said that despite not knowing what to expect, he’s really
enjoyed his stay in Israel so far, although he could have done without the
unpleasant experience of running for shelter during the recent rocket fire from
Gaza to Tel Aviv.
“It was scary,” he admitted. “It’s something you never
experienced before. To have something that’s so scary that you don’t feel safe
is big. It’s a difficult situation for everyone. Even for people
who live here and have experienced it before.
“This is the only time that
things have been rocky,” he added. “That’s the only time that I thought we are
not in a good situation. To be honest, for 95 percent of the time it’s been
good. It’s a little difficult coming over from England. It was a change, but I
settled in very well.”
The cease-fire between Israel and Hamas has
Earnshaw feeling a lot more relaxed.
“The worse thing is that you start
worrying when the next siren is going off,” he said. “What are you going to do,
where are you going to be and where you are going to take cover. That’s when its
difficult because you are not living a calm life. You are thinking about things
that you probably shouldn’t be thinking about. I think that was the most
“Since the cease-fire everybody is a lot calmer and
everybody has started to get back to normal. Normal life here is very good and
you can really enjoy it.”
Earnshaw’s scoring pedigree is indisputable. He
has netted 202 goals in 453 league and cup appearances playing for Cardiff City,
Nottingham Forrest, Derby County, Norwich City and West Bromwich
The Zambia native has also scored 16 goals in 58 games for the
Welsh national team.
He is playing abroad for the first time in his
career, but said that the decision to do so was made long ago.
not all of the sudden,” he explained. “When I was out of a contract a year and a
half ago at Nottingham Forest there were different options of going abroad with
“Ever since I was young I wasn’t always set on just
playing in England. I always wanted to experience different things and
different football. It’s not been a case of its just something has come
up and I’ve done it. I’ve always had in the back of my mind that I’ll play
abroad somewhere. It just happened to be a good situation in this club and it’s
something that I wanted to do.”
Earnshaw, who joined Maccabi on a
one-year loan deal from Cardiff, insisted that he is focusing on enjoying his
time with the yellow-andblue and soaking up as much as possible from the
“Maybe later on I’ll become a coach or manager and I think
the experience will help me,” he said.
“You see a different mentality and
you learn different things, especially from the coach here and Jordi Cruyff. You
have got these people around you who have been at what is probably the biggest
club in the world in Barcelona and you can take things off them and that is a
big part of why I came because I wanted to learn all these things.”
losing two consecutive matches, Maccabi got back to winning ways on Saturday,
coming back from 1-3 down to beat Hapoel Ramat Hasharon 4-3, with Earnshaw
coming on as a 58th-minute substitute.
Earnshaw may have only played a
total of 143 minutes in the league so far, but he has nevertheless gotten to
know his team and the yellow-and-blue’s rivals in recent months and believes
Maccabi can go all the way and win a first championship since the 2002/03
“This is what we are fighting for. I believe Maccabi can win the
championship,” he said. “I’ve been here a couple of months now and have seen a
few games so I believe so. Whether it will happen is a different
“I think the squad has got a good spirit and a good calmness,” he
explained. “Even when we lost a couple of games there was no panic. It’s been
disruptive over the last couple of weeks with everything that has gone on
outside of football as well.
“We have slowly gotten back to what we need
to do. We won the other day and we need to win this weekend to put pressure on
the other teams. A win will also help our confidence.
“Sometimes you get
knocked a little bit when you lose a game, but if we get our confidence back
that is going to help us win games and stay top of the