Eight seconds. That is all it took for Maor Buzaglo’s return to Turner Stadium on Monday night to turn into a complete nightmare.
It took another 33 minutes until the 29-year-old midfielder, who joined Maccabi Haifa from Hapoel Beersheba during the summer, left the pitch in tears. But it was already in the first play of the match that Buzaglo was injured, awkwardly twisting his right knee while chasing a ball out of bounds.
In a cruel twist of fate, that is the same knee in which he tore his ACL (Anterior cruciate ligament) while playing for Beersheba, against Maccabi Haifa, towards the end of last season on April 25, exactly eight months earlier.
He underwent a long rehabilitation process and made his first appearance for Haifa on November 25, seven months after suffering the injury, coming on as a substitute in a 1-1 draw against Maccabi Netanya.
He was registering just his third start for the Greens in Beersheba on Monday, but his next appearance for the team won’t come before next season. An MRI revealed on Tuesday that Buzaglo has torn his ACL yet again and also damaged his meniscus.
“I’ve experienced difficult times before and I’ll also overcome this,”- said Buzaglo after undergoing the magnetic resonance imaging scan in Tel Aviv on Tuesday morning.
He sounded convinced he would make a full recovery.
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“I’m not depressed or too sad because I’m an optimistic person and I believe that everything that happens is for the best,” he said.
“No doubt I’ll be back. What retirement are you talking about? I’m a young man,” he added after being asked whether the latest injury blow could end his career prematurely.
After discovering the extent of the injury, Buzaglo tweeted: “It isn’t a simple injury, but it also isn’t one that will break me. If there were those who expected me to give up, I’m sorry to be disturbing you.
I’m here to come back and so that Maccabi Haifa will get back on track even if I can’t be on the pitch at the moment. Today I’m greener than ever,” he wrote, before adding in English: “I will be back don’t worry.”
Buzaglo was at the height of his career when he tore his ACL in April.
He was tipped for soccer greatness from a young age, but it wasn’t until he joined Hapoel Beersheba in the summer of 2013 that he finally began to realize his full potential.
He reached double-figures in goals and assists in his first two seasons with the club and was an integral part in helping the team win its first Israeli championship in 40 years in 2015/16. Buzaglo helped Beersheba claim its second straight Premier League title last season and played a major role in the side’s progress to the Europa League round-of-32, scoring memorable goals against Inter Milan in Italy and Southampton in England.
Nevertheless, he felt unappreciated at Beersheba and was never really close to signing a contract extension. Buzaglo clashed with the club time and again and it seemed that he had played for the team for the last time already back in January when he was suspended indefinitely following an attack against the club on social media.
The club ultimately weathered the storm and Buzaglo returned to the team after taking the entire squad out for dinner and posting a public apology online.
Just a few weeks later though it became clear that Buzaglo had no long-term future at the club. Beersheba announced that “the demands of Buzaglo’s representatives were extremely high and far beyond what we expected” and that “the gap is unbridgeable and that is why we have halted the negotiations.”
Buzaglo went on to reveal that he was close to signing a lucrative deal with a Turkish club before the knee injury ruined everything.
Maccabi Haifa, the club at which he began his professional career in the 2005/06 campaign, was always going to be his likely destination after that. The desperate Greens accepted his hefty financial demands, hoping that his return would help the club regain its former glory.
Haifa’s season has been nothing short of disastrous though, and it hit a new low with Buzaglo’s injury on Monday.
Buzaglo was so eager to prove that Beersheba had made a mistake by letting him go, but it all went so wrong, so quickly, in his first visit back to Turner.
The evening began with a prematch ceremony honoring Buzaglo, with Barkat handing him a flower bouquet to resounding boos from the stands. That wouldn’t be the last time many of the Beersheba supporters showed disgraceful ungratefulness for all he had done for their club. Plenty of those in attendance chanted “Buzaglo is dead” as he hobbled injured off the pitch, although many others also applauded him.
That is however, the last thing on Buzaglo’s mind at the moment. He has turned his entire focus to the upcoming surgery and beginning his rehabilitation with the aim of coming back stronger and better.
Buzaglo certainly believes that is possible, but his injury record means he is unlikely to ever be the same physically, and probably also mentally.
A seemingly harmless chase of a ball he was never going to reach may well have resulted in an injury that will derail his career for email@example.com
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