Tamir Cohen 370.
(photo credit: Reuters)
It isn’t difficult to pinpoint the exact moment Tamir Cohen’s career began to
On December 20, 2010, one of Israel’s all-time greatest players
and Tamir’s father, Avi, was struck by a car while riding his motorbike in Ramat
Nine days after the accident, his death was announced, shattering
Tamir’s life and derailing his career to an extent that saw him go from being a
regular starter for then English Premier League club Bolton to a soccer nomad
seeking his fortune at Hapoel Ra’anana.
At 29 years of age, Cohen should
be in the prime of his career.
However, after all that has transpired
over recent years, he just wants to enjoy life as a professional athlete once
“I feel great. The decision to come to Ra’anana was one of the best
I made in my career,” Cohen said after scoring in Saturday’s 3- 1 win at Hapoel
“I probably look relaxed on the pitch because I’m
enjoying every moment.”
Cohen netted his first goal since finding the
back of the net for Bolton in a 2-1 victory over Arsenal in April 2011, when he
memorably went on to reveal a T-shirt bearing a picture of his
His latest goal helped Ra’anana to its second win of the
campaign, with the newly promoted side currently sitting in third place in the
standings with seven points out of a possible nine.
three-and-a-half years at Bolton, Cohen found himself without a contract in the
summer of 2011, but seemingly had plenty of other options.
The offer he
had hoped for from another club in England never arrived, but he did attract
plenty of interest from Greek giant Panathinaikos before eventually signing a
lucrative four-year deal at Maccabi Haifa.
Cohen, who had made 49 Premier
League appearances at Bolton, ultimately decided to join Haifa as he wanted to
be near his family after the tragic death of his father.
experienced two dismal years at Haifa, playing only 14 matches for the club in
2011/12 before making a mere three league appearances last season, including
only one in the final eight months of the campaign.
Cohen has since
admitted that he was both physically and psychologically drained by the time he
joined Haifa and that he was mentally lost without his father’s guiding
The midfielder did initially feature in Reuven Atar’s plans last
season, but the sacking of the coach combined with a broken bone in his foot saw
Cohen relegated to a substitute’s role at best.
New coach Arik Benado
used him in just a single league game and after long negotiations he finally
came to an agreement to part ways with Haifa in July.
Cohen is no
stranger to adversity, reaching the English Premier League despite being labeled
as an overrated player at the start of his career at Maccabi Tel
Cohen joined Bolton from Maccabi Netanya at which he resurrected
his career after struggling to find his place at his home club in Tel Aviv,
making just three league appearances for the yellow- and-blue in the 2006/07
The defensive midfielder made his international debut in October
2007, but hasn’t featured for Israel since recording his 21st appearance two
Cohen went from being a staple in the Israel side to being
treated as damaged goods that very few clubs were willing to come
However, with Cohen lowering his financial requests and Ra’anana
desperate for any experienced player who was willing to join the team, the
midfielder found himself playing for a club which had only one previous
topflight season on its resume and usually plays its home matches in front of
just several hundred fans.
The nurturing approach of coach Menahem
Koretzki, who is known for his personal connection to his players, and the
relaxed mood at the club seems to be doing wonders for Cohen, who has stared in
the team’s first three games after being named as the side’s
Cohen looks to be finally back on track to returning to being
the player he once was.
After scoring in Saturday’s match he raised his
eyes to the sky while pointing both his index fingers upwards, dedicating the
strike to his father.
Cohen’s challenge in recent years was far more
personal than it was professional. Avi played a major role in his son’s career
and the void left by his death can never be filled.
However, Tamir seems
to have finally found his way, on his own, as he continues to rebuild both his
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