Soccer: Avraham Grant joins Chelsea

Former Israel national team coach announced as English Premiership giant's director of football.

avram grant 248 88 ap (photo credit: AP [file])
avram grant 248 88 ap
(photo credit: AP [file])
Avraham Grant became the envy of coaches across the world on Sunday afternoon after being announced as the director of football at English giant Chelsea. "Grant will be responsible for liaison on, and co-ordination of, football matters across the various areas of Chelsea FC," a Chelsea statment said. The 52-year-old Israeli, who is believed to be a good friend of Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, joined the London club from fellow English Premiership team Portsmouth where he held the similarly vague job title of technical director for the last year. For the previous five years he had worked as the coach of the Israel national team, guiding the blue-and-white during the 2004 European Championship qualifying campaign and the 2006 World Cup qualifiers. Israel finished third in both campaigns and came to the brink of World Cup qualification in 2006, finishing unbeaten in the group behind France and Switzerland. Maccabi Haifa midfielder Abbas Suan who played under Grant at the Israel national team, was all praise for his former coach. "Grant deserves all the success he's achieving," Suan told The Jerusalem Post. "He's a very smart man who understands the game at the highest level. Grant prepares his players for the matches better than any coach I've ever had. He reads the opponent's moves and he guides his team how to play and how to win the match." Grant will begin work immediately, joining Chelsea for its pre-season tour to Los Angeles which starts on Monday. In its statement Chelsea did not fully explain what Grant will do at the club, saying only that "his experience and knowledge will play an important role in the formulation of overall football policy with Kenyon, manager and first team coach José Mourinho and director of youth development and scouting Frank Arnesen," In a indicator of the significance of his position at Chelsea, the statement added that Grant will sit on the club board and report to chief executive Peter Kenyon. In his long coaching career Grant has made a significant impact on Israeli soccer. He began coaching at Hapoel Petah Tikva, guiding the youth teams before taking over senior side and guiding Hapoel to three straight second place finishes in the late 80's and early 90's. After leaving Petah Tikva he joined Maccabi Tel Aviv, leading the club to the Israeli championship in the 1991/92 season. In the following years he coached Hapoel Haifa, Maccabi Tel Aviv again and Maccabi Haifa where he won two league titles in his two years in charge. Grant is expected to play an important role at Chelsea in ensuring there is no repeat of last season's internal squabbles. Chelsea surrendered the league title to Manchester United last season amid speculation Mourinho and club owner Abramovich had fallen out. It was widely reported that Abramovich was behind the arrival of Ukraine striker Andriy Shevchenko from AC Milan and that Mourinho didn't want him. Although Chelsea has never admitted there were clashes between the two, Kenyon said that the speculation relating to Mourinho's future had been unsettling. "I don't think that anyone wants to repeat last year," he was quoted as saying in Sunday's newspapers. "The whole thing took too much time and effort away, from a management point of view. "We have a great setup here and my disappointment about last year is that it took the edge off. We have spent a lot of time during the close season on why what occurred did occur and the issues we need to address. "We got to the stage last season when, until Jose started again this month, we were never going to convince anybody that he wasn't on his way out. We want to put this behind us and draw a line under it." AP contributed to this report