Eli Ohana is returning to Beitar Jerusalem as the club’s top professional and administrative authority.
(photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
After nearly 12 years, Eli Ohana has returned home, officially rejoining Beitar Jerusalem on Sunday afternoon.
Ohana signed a five-year deal that will see him become Beitar’s top professional and administrative authority.
Owner Eli Tabib is not allowed to be involved in the running of the club over the next two seasons, due to a ruling made by the Israel Football Association’s ownership transfer committee last summer following his conviction in June 2015 of assaulting a minor and of disruption of justice.
The committee didn’t bar Tabib from retaining his ownership of the club, but ordered him to disconnect himself from its running.
With Ohana being a good friend of Tabib – and having a cult status among Beitar fans – he was a natural choice to take charge, leaving his role as a TV commentator for the position.
Ohana’s appointment still needs to be approved by the ownership transfer committee, but that is believed to be a formality.
“First of all, I’d like to thank Eli Tabib for the trust. This is far from a given. I’m delighted and proud to return home - to the place I love and where I always feel loved,” said Ohana, who hasn’t been involved in club soccer since leaving Hapoel Kfar Saba in 2008.
“Unlike when I returned as a player when the team was in the second division, now I’m coming back to a successful team and we want to build on this and progress together. There is a lot of work ahead of us and I can’t wait to get started.”
Ohana received the nickname “the prince” from Beitar fans in the 1980’s, helping the club to its first-ever league championship in 1987. He went on to win the European Cup Winners Cup with Belgian club Mechelen in 1988 before returning to Beitar in 1991 while it was in the second division. He led the team to promotion and to a championship the following season before ultimately retiring in 1997. Ohana also coached Beitar between 1999-2000 and 2003-2005.
Tabib announced last week that Sharon Mimer will continue as Beitar coach next season, with Jerusalem also already making its first signing of the summer, bringing in Brazilian Georginho, who played for Bnei Sakhnin in the past two seasons.