The Israeli marksman has played abroad since the 2016/17 season when he departed Maccabi for China, and he most recently plied his trade in Holland before inking a deal to bring him back home.
During his time away from the Holy Land, the 34-year-old scored 113 goals in 156 appearances for Guangzhou R&F and PSV Eindhoven and he will look to thrill the supporters once again at Bloomfield Stadium where he featured and scored 98 goals in 119 matches for Maccabi between 2013-2016 after returning from a season-and-a-half stint in Italy with Palermo.
After Zahavi’s departure, Maccabi struggled to find its immediate footing as Hapoel Beersheba began dominating the league.
However, with the arrival of Serbian bench boss Vladimir Ivic in time for the 2018/19 campaign, the yellow-and-blue won two straight league titles in fine fashion as it blew away the field.
But following the two championships, Ivic left for greener pastures in England as Maccabi once again had issues in domestic play as Maccabi Haifa moved into the driver’s seat.
Now with both Ivic back as head coach and Zahavi returning to the site of some of his greatest triumphs, the two will team up to once again steer the club back to its glory days.
“I am excited to be able to rejoin Maccabi Tel Aviv and am grateful to Mitch Goldhar, Jack Angelides and Barak Itzhaki for making it happen,” Zahavi said upon signing the contract. “I would also like to thank Maccabi’s fans, who I could not let down as my heart didn’t allow me to make any other choice.
“I have the option to repay you all for the love you have shown me all along the way. As I have always done throughout my career, I set myself ambitious targets and I know that these are aligned with those set by the club. Striving for excellence and pushing for both personal and team achievements is something I intend to do while giving everything to help my teammates and everyone connected with the club achieve the targets and success we all desire.”
Maccabi owner Mitch Goldhar was also vocally joyous over the move.
“I am pleased to welcome Eran back to Maccabi. His achievements speak for themselves. Eran’s competitive drive is aligned with the club’s hunger to succeed. We have a lot of work to do to achieve our goals, the addition of Eran is another step toward our preparations for next season.”
“I am pleased to welcome Eran back to Maccabi. His achievements speak for themselves. Eran’s competitive drive is aligned with the club’s hunger to succeed. We have a lot of work to do to achieve our goals, the addition of Eran is another step toward our preparations for next season.”Maccabi owner Mitch Goldhar
Barak Itzhaki, the head of Maccabi’s football department, added: “During his time at Maccabi, Eran not only achieved professional success but also led by example in his approach to physical and mental conditioning, training and match play. We are delighted Eran is returning to Maccabi and believe that together we can achieve our goals this season.”
Zahavi began his career in Hapoel Tel Aviv’s youth department and played for the Reds between 2006-2011 while spending one season on loan with Hapoel Ramat Hasharon.
During his time with Hapoel, Zahavi was able to begin to set the stage for his extraordinary career as he scored the dramatic 2009/10 championship goal in the 92nd minute against Beitar Jerusalem at Teddy Stadium to slip by Maccabi Haifa on the final matchday of the campaign.
That same season saw him also hoist the Israel State Cup as he then went on to lead the league in assists the following year and also helped the club advance to the UEFA Champions League group stages.
Next it was off to Palermo for the budding star, but after only 23 appearances and just two goals, Maccabi Tel Aviv sports director Jordi Cruyff came calling and lured the sensation back to Israel, but this time wearing the yellow-and-blue in January 2013.
Zahavi made an immediate impact as he spurred the club to three straight Israel league championships, an unprecedented treble in 2015 by adding the State Cup and Toto Cup to his trophy case, while also playing in the Champions League group stages in 2016. Throughout his three-plus years with Maccabi, Zahavi provided unforgettable moments and excitement as he scored oodles of goals and was always there for his team when it counted most.
The Rishon Lezion native led the league in scoring for three straight seasons between 2014-2016 and captured the Israel Player of Season Award in 2014/15 and 2015/16 to cement his spot atop the list of all-time greats.
Whether it was defeating Hapoel in the derby on his late goals under head coach Paulo Sousa, scoring a brace in Plzen during Champions League qualifying or heading home a miraculous strike that sent Maccabi into the group stages, Zahavi could always be relied on.
After his successful time with Maccabi, China was the superstar’s next stop. The Israeli ripped up the league and scored at will while winning the 2017 Player of the Season award to go along with two goal-scoring titles in 2017 and 2019 as he became a star in the Far East for countless amounts of newfound fans.
After his run in China, he was back to Europe for two seasons at Dutch powerhouse PSV Eindhoven, was also left his mark by winning the KNVB Cup and Johan Cruyff Shield.
It was all a prelude to Zhavi’s latest dramatic decision to come home, leaving a number of offers from Brazil, the United States, Greece, Spain, Germany and Turkey on the table.
Along with starring in club soccer, Zahavi was also an integral part of the Israel National Team where he has scored 33 goals in 70 appearances and will continue being an integral piece of the puzzle for the blue-and-white.