In true super-agent style, Dahan deflects criticism

Sinai Says: Despite scandals and controversy, soccer agent has landed contracts for many previously-anonymous Israeli players.

June 11, 2013 23:51
4 minute read.
ISRAEL UNDER-21 national team coach Guy Luzon (right) and agent Dudu Dahan (left)

Dudu Dahan soccer agent 370. (photo credit: Adi Avishai)

The first thing that strikes you about soccer agent Dudu Dahan is that he oozes confidence.

Some might even call it arrogance.

The 41-year-old had his playing career cut short a decade ago due to a serious knee injury and has become in recent years synonymous with the transfer of Israeli players to Europe, especially Belgium.

What has stood out in many of Dahan’s deals was the fact that he landed contracts for many then-anonymous Israeli players of the likes of Rami Gershon and Dudu Biton and not just for standout talents like Lior Rafaelov and Eran Zahavi.

However, Dahan has also found himself caught up in controversy more than his fair share since officially leaving his position as coach of Hakoakh Amidar Ramat Gan four years ago to become a full-time agent.

Dahan has fallen out with Maccabi Haifa and Hapoel Tel Aviv and was accused of influencing the squad selection of Luis Fernandez in his time as Israel national team coach, a claim he vehemently denied.

Two weeks ago, Dahan found himself at the center of yet another scandal when he sat beside Israel Under-21 coach Guy Luzon in an official press conference to announce Luzon’s signing with Belgian club Standard Liege.

Luzon embarrassingly showered Dahan with compliments before listening to the agent praise himself on his latest accomplishment.

Luzon was slammed by the media (including by yours truly) and has become public enemy No. 1 after the blue-and-white lost any realistic hope of reaching the European Championship semifinals, picking up a single point from its first two matches, drawing 2-2 versus Norway and being thrashed 4-0 by Italy (before beating England 1-0 on Tuesday).

This perhaps will come as little surprise, but Dahan doesn’t believe that the Israel team has been a disappointment.

“I think that Israel has lived up to the expectations,” he told me on Tuesday ahead of the side’s final group match against England.

“Anyone who had any great expectations from the Israel team in this tournament either has no clue or is completely unrealistic. I am neither, so I’m not disappointed.

“Of course we all harbored a small hope that Israel would register some major shock, but it’s no surprise that it didn’t.”

Dahan claimed that the attack on the team following the humbling defeat to Italy was unfair.

“With the Israeli team what you see is what you get. I think that the draw against Norway was a stunning result,” he said. “Teams like England, Germany and Russia didn’t even manage to pick up a single point from their first two matches so we are in good company.

“The criticism was very venomous and motivated by interests,” he added. “The Israeli media is the worst thing about this tournament.

The journalists in Israel aren’t professional and they stir up the violence that exists in Israeli soccer.

“I think that maybe there should be some regulation over journalists so that not anyone can write whatever they like.”

Dahan hailed the organization and the general level of play in the tournament as fantastic, saying: “this is the type of event which can only help our country and not just from a sporting perspective.”

Dahan admitted that Luzon made a mistake by criticizing the fans following the Italy loss, but was also quick to defend his client.

“Guy Luzon said a lot of things he shouldn’t have said, but I don’t think that Binyamin Netanyahu would have managed to withstand the attack on Guy,” he claimed.

“Guy Luzon is a very serious and honest man and you can not question his professionalism. He’s a good guy and I believe in him.”

Dahan showed his faith in Luzon by setting him up with the coaching position at one of Belgium’s biggest club’s, Standard Liege.

“There were many things that helped Guy to get to Liege,” he said. “The club’s poor results and the fact that they were looking for a young and ambitious coach, as well as the fact that Guy was out of contract and coaching at an international level all helped.

“My good connections with the club’s management and their faith in me were also a factor and we succeeded.”

Despite not being shy of his role in Luzon’s astonishing promotion, Dahan is confident of the coach’s chances of succeeding on the big stage, regardless of his far from impressive resume.

“Everyone in life occasionally gets a chance and it isn’t that important who gives you the chance, but if you make the most of it,” Dahan said.

“I gave so many players their chance and everyone is talking about them and not me. I hope that a year from now that will also be the case with Guy.

“I must believe that Guy will succeed,” he added. “In my job you have to be a very optimistic person, especially if you are dealing with Israelis. You have no chance to succeed if you aren’t an optimist.”

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