Shimon Gershon 311.
(photo credit: Betar Jerusalem Web site)
After a 13-year career, which included such highlights as winning the Premier League and State Cup double with both Hapoel Tel Aviv and Betar Jerusalem, as well as reaching the quarterfinals of the UEFA Cup, Shimon Gershon announced on Wednesday that he is retiring due to heart problems.
The 32-year-old defender, who made 50 appearances for the Israel national team, played in Betar’s first two matches of this season, but following recent checks on a cardiac problem he has been suffering from throughout his career he was told that continuing to play could put his life in danger, resulting in Wednesday’s announcement.
“I had hoped that I would be able to continue and play,” a tearful Gershon said on Wednesday. “I will be 33 next month and I wanted to extend my playing career, but the doctors told me that if I continue in competitive sports I will be putting myself in danger.
“I can’t really believe that it is all over, but I’m optimistic that this will all be for the good.”
After coming through the Hapoel Tel Aviv youth system, Gershon made his debut for the senior team in the 1996/97 season before becoming a key member of the side.
He helped the team to the league title in the 1999/2000 season and lifted the cup in 1999, 2000 and 2006, while also being one of the stars of the side which made the last eight of the UEFA Cup in the 2001/02 campaign.
In May 2006, Gershon infuriated Hapoel fans by choosing to move to
arch-rival Betar for a lucrative long-term contract. Tel Aviv fans never
forgave him, but Gershon experienced four very successful seasons in
Jerusalem, winning two championships and two cups.
“It is a shame his career has ended this way,” said West Ham manager
Avraham Grant, who coached Gershon in the national team. “Gershon can
look back at his career with a smile. He was one of the best defenders
in Israeli soccer history.”
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