Just when it seemed as if everything was finally falling into place for Shlomi
Avisdris, the troubled rising soccer star once more found himself in
Avisdris will turn just 22 next month, but he has already
experienced a lifetime’s worth of trials and tribulations.
supreme talent is undeniable, but a career which once looked so promising is now
hanging by a thread.
It wasn’t all that long ago that the Kiryat Shmona
native was touted as one of Israel’s best youth players, displaying a
combination of speed and elegance rarely seen in this country.
in 2008, it all began to unravel for the Ironi Kiryat Shmona
Avisdris was arrested as part of a police crackdown on drug
dealers in the north of the country, which eventually resulted in jail
Avisdris’s friends claimed that he was only trying to impress a
girl – one who unfortunately turned out to be an undercover policewoman – by
telling her that he could provide her with drugs.
But the court convicted
the player, sentencing him to six months of community service and a suspended
Kiryat Shmona owner Izi Shirazki, who supports the city in a
variety of ways in addition to the soccer club, refused to forsake Avisdris and
promised the court that he would take him under his wing.
months at a local YMCA proved to be more than Avisdris was willing to handle. He
ended up spending time in prison, claiming that he himself asked for the
community service to be converted to jail time, as it was getting in the way of
Avisdris promised that he would never slip-up again, and he
began to fulfill his potential last season when he helped Kiryat Shmona to
Premier League promotion.
However, his murky past continued to haunt him,
and he spent five days on housearrest last September after being questioned in
connection with another drug bust.
No charges were ultimately pressed and
in recent months his career had really begun to take off.
playing a minor role in Kiryat Shmona’s outstanding league campaign, making 11
appearances, he was instrumental in bringing the club its first ever title in
After coming on as a substitute, Avisdris scored a stoppage time
equalizer against Bnei Yehuda in the Toto Cup semifinals before slotting in the
decisive spot kick in the penalty shootout.
In the final against Maccabi
Petah Tikva, he also entered the match from the bench, this time scoring in the
82nd minute, repaying Shirazki for his support with a winner which gave the club
NIS 1.1 million in prize money.
Once more Avisdris was being talked about
for the right reasons, but yet again it wouldn’t last for long.
to the police report, Avisdris arrived at the home of local journalist Ran
Bar-Maoz last Thursday night and both threatened and physically assaulted
Bar-Maoz filed a complaint at the local police station and Avisdris
was detained, with the Nazareth Magistrate Court extending his remand for three
days on Friday morning.
While his teammates were facing Maccabi Tel Aviv
on Saturday in a crucial showdown for a place in the Europa League next season,
Avisdris was at Kishon Prison, wondering how it could have all gone so wrong
Avisdris was released on Sunday morning and, not
surprisingly, had a different version of events when he rejoined the club in
training on Tuesday.
“I heard the journalist, who lives next door to me,
saying bad things about me to his friends in the garden,” Avisdris claimed. “I
went up to him and asked him to stop bad-mouthing me. I never slapped him and
people are turning an ant into an elephant.
I asked him to stop speaking
about me and walked away. He chased me back to my home and said: ‘I will end
your career.’” Avisdris is expected to face charges for last week’s incident,
and considering his record, it is anyone’s guess how a trial will
Kiryat Shmona remains adamant in its support of its player and is
not planning on any severe disciplinary action.
Avisdris has squandered
chance after chance, finding trouble on a more consistent basis than the back of
Kiryat Shmona has helped him more than must clubs would, but
even Shirazki’s patience is bound to run out at some stage.
may sadly learn, even the best of strikers can end up striking
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