The first thing that strikes you about soccer agent Dudu Dahan is that he oozes
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
“The criticism was very venomous and motivated by interests,” he
added. “The Israeli media is the worst thing about this tournament.
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
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.”
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
“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
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.”email@example.com