Tamir Cohen returns to Israel with Greens

After more than three seasons abroad in the English Premier League, Israel midfielder signs with Maccabi Haifa for the next four years.

By
August 8, 2011 22:20
3 minute read.
Tamir Cohen

Tamie Cohen 311. (photo credit: Adi Avishai)

 
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Maccabi Haifa finally found the midfielder it was so desperately searching for on Monday, signing Israel international Tamir Cohen to a four-year contract.

The 27-year-old will return to Israel after three-and-a-half years at Bolton Wanderers of the English Premier League and will be able to play for Haifa in the first leg of its Champions League playoff against KRC Genk after putting pen to paper ahead of Monday night’s deadline.

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“I’m happy to be joining Haifa, which is a European club in every way possible,” said Cohen, who is expected to earn in the region of 300,000 euros a season.

“I hope to help Haifa in its upcoming missions.”

Cohen, whose contract at Bolton ran out at the end of May, was holding out for an attractive offer in England, but when that didn’t arrive he was left to decide between Greek giant Panathinaikos and Haifa.

Cohen, who had made 49 Premier League appearances over three-and-ahalf seasons at Bolton, had already agreed personal terms with Pana, only to eventually decide to join Haifa as he wanted to be near his family after the tragic death of his father Avi in a motorcycle accident in December.

Cohen scored six league goals for the Wanderers, with the last being especially emotional.

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After netting Bolton’s 90th minute winner in a 2-1 victory over Arsenal at the Reebok Stadium in April, Cohen revealed a T-shirt bearing a picture of his father before breaking down in tears.

Cohen was only making his fourth Premier League appearance of the season in the match against Arsenal after a minor operation last summer had left him behind schedule before spending weeks in Israel when his father was left critically injured following the motorcycle accident in Ramat Gan.

Cohen joined Bolton from Maccabi Netanya, where he had resurrected his career after struggling to find his place at his home club Maccabi Tel Aviv, making just three league appearances in the 2006/07 season.

The defensive midfielder made his international debut in October 2007, but lack of playing time at Bolton has meant that coach Luis Fernandez hasn’t used him in a match since last October, not even calling him up for this Wednesday’s international friendly against the Ivory Coast.

The signing of Cohen was Haifa’s third in 24 hours, with the Greens also adding defender Itzik Cohen and Hapoel Petah Tikva striker Alon Turgeman to their squad.

The 28-year-old Itzik Cohen joined from Hapoel Acre, where he made his overdue breakthrough last season, starting in 26 league matches and earning a call-up to the national team.

“I’m happy to be coming back home,” said Cohen, who came through the Haifa youth system. “I will do all I can to gel with the squad as quickly as possible and help the club in the challenges it faces.”

Cohen will likely have a crucial role to play as soon as next week, with Haifa missing its two first-choice center-backs for the first leg against Genk.

Croatian Jurica Buljat is suspended after picking up a second yellow card in the return leg against NK Maribor in the third qualifying round, while Ukrainian Andriy Pylyavskyi is expected to be out for around two months after injuring his ankle in training.

Haifa hosts Genk at National Stadium in Ramat Gan on August 17 before visiting Belgium for the return leg the following Tuesday.

Haifa’s biggest rival in recent years was also active in the transfer market on Monday, with Hapoel Tel Aviv signing Nigerian Nosa Igiebor from Norwegian club Lillestrom SK for a fee in the vicinity of 800,000 euros.

The 20-year-old midfielder still needs to come through a medical for the deal to be completed, but assuming he does so he will help fill the void left in the Hapoel midfield by the departures of Eran Zahavi and Gili Vermut.

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