60 Sporting Heroes for 60 Years: No.2 Mordechai Spiegler

He was named Israel's soccer player of the half-century and scored the country's only goal in a World Cup against Sweden in 1970.

May 6, 2008 06:55
1 minute read.
60 Sporting Heroes for 60 Years: No.2 Mordechai Spiegler

spiegler 88. (photo credit: )


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Considered the best Israeli soccer player in history, midfielder Mordechai Spiegler, also known as Motale, made a lasting impression as both a player and a coach. Spiegler still holds the Israeli national team scoring record of 32 goals in 83 appearances. He was named Israel's soccer player of the half-century and scored the country's only goal in a World Cup against Sweden in 1970. However, he boasts of a slightly more modest accomplishment. "I am the best soccer player in my family, and we are five brothers, so it's not easy," Spiegler told the Jerusalem Post. Spiegler, now 63 years old, said he was honored to be number two on the list. "If in 60 years you make another list, I hope I'll be number one," Spiegler said jokingly. Born in Sochi, Russia, Spiegler moved to Netanya as a boy and began playing soccer there. His professional debut came in 1961 with Maccabi Netanya, where he made 385 appearances. Gil Lebanony, spokesperson for the Israeli Football League, said Spiegler was a fantastic role model. "The way he expressed himself in the media, even though it was more diverse, was in the right proportion," Lebanony said. "It was always in proper Hebrew, always with a wink and a smile, always seeking to educate, and with a vision that went beyond the game," he said. "[He is] one of the greatest Israeli players, who went the furthest and influenced the most," he said. Spiegler played abroad for Paris Saint-Germain from 1972 to 1974, and for the New York Cosmos alongside soccer legend Pele from 1973 to 1977. Upon his return to Israel Spiegler played for Beitar Tel Aviv for one season, then began coaching Macabi Natanya with outstanding results. "Maccabi Netanya played so beautifully, so attractively and so fluidly then," Lebanony said. Spiegler also coached Maccabi Haifa, Hapoel Haifa and Beitar Tel Aviv, but made his most lasting impression as a player and a coach in Netanya. "Motale is Netanya and Netanya is Motale. There is no possible way to separate the two," Lebanony said. Lebanony called Spiegler "more than just a soccer player." "I wish the Israeli soccer league more players like Motale, not only on the field, but also in their vision, their want to educate, seeing soccer as a tool for education," he said. Spiegler serves as an honorary representative of Maccabi Netanya and a member of the Israeli Football League's education committee.

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