Captain Israel Yossi Benayoun hanging up his cleats

Blue-and-white’s iconic soccer star Yossi Benayoun announces his retirement after more than two decades.

By JOSHUA HALICKMAN
April 11, 2019 23:38
2 minute read.
ONE OF the biggest stars in Israeli soccer history – Yossi Benayoun.

ONE OF the biggest stars in Israeli soccer history – Yossi Benayoun – signed yesterday with Beitar Jerusalem and returns to the team from the capital about a year after leaving for Maccabi Petah Tikva. At season’s end, Benayoun will hang up his shoes at the age of 39 and will receive a two-year posi. (photo credit: UDI ZITIAT)

Yossi Benayoun, perhaps Israel’s greatest ever soccer player, announced his retirement from active play on Thursday.

The Dimona native was currently playing for Beitar Jerusalem of the Israel Premier League and will hang up his cleats at the age of 38.

The “Diamond from Dimona” began his illustrious career at the Hapoel Dimona youth department and then moved to Hapoel Beersheba. After a spell at the Ajax youth academy, Benayoun returned to Beersheba and suffered relegation with the club at the end of the 1997/98 season.

Following the season, Benayoun moved to Maccabi Haifa, where he won back-to-back championships, which paved the way for his move to Europe when he joined Racing Santander in 2002.

Following three years in Spain, Benayoun began his English Premier League career and signed with West Ham United, where he spent two seasons before transferring to Liverpool.

The Israeli star featured in 92 matches with the Reds while scoring 18 goals over three campaigns. One of his greatest goals, if not the greatest, was his Champions League round-of-16 82nd-minute header off a Fabio Aurelio free kick against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu.

Benayoun moved again in 2010, this time to Chelsea, where he won the Europa League title in 2012/13. He was also loaned out twice during his tenure with the Blues, to Arsenal and West Ham.

After the 2013/14 season with Queens Park Rangers, Benayoun returned to Israel where he played for Maccabi Haifa, Maccabi Tel Aviv, Maccabi Petah Tikva and Beitar Jerusalem.

In 637 matches, Benayoun scored 168 goals over his 20+ year career.

On the international front, Benayoun made 102 appearances for the Israel National Team and scored 24 goals. He is the most capped blue-and-white player.

“The truth is that nothing I experienced over my career prepared me for the decision to stop playing,” said Benayoun on Thursday in a farewell Instagram post. “Soccer has been a part of me from the day I learned to walk. I am happy with my soccer journey, from small Dimona through Beersheba and Haifa, 12 years of Europe and back to my country.

“I never quit the national team because I was always willing to show up for it. Representing my nation, wherever I was, was an integral part of my pride. It is important for me to thank the fans: you gave me love wherever I went. I truly love you, appreciate every such moment and cherish it to my last day.”

 
Joshua Halickman, the Sports Rabbi, covers Israeli sports and organizes Israel sports adventures for tourists and residents. Follow the Sports Rabbi on Twitter @thesportsrabbi or visit www.sportsrabbi.com. Feel free to contact the Sports Rabbi via email at

sportsrabbi9@gmail.com


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