Avisdris still racking up all the wrong type of strikes

Sinai Says: 21-year-old Ironi Kiryat Shmona striker better clean up his act – and fast – if he has any hope of fulfilling the heaps of hype cast upon him.

Shlomi Avisdris 311 (photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Shlomi Avisdris 311
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Just when it seemed as if everything was finally falling into place for Shlomi Avisdris, the troubled rising soccer star once more found himself in jail.
Avisdris will turn just 22 next month, but he has already experienced a lifetime’s worth of trials and tribulations.
The striker’s supreme talent is undeniable, but a career which once looked so promising is now hanging by a thread.
It wasn’t all that long ago that the Kiryat Shmona native was touted as one of Israel’s best youth players, displaying a combination of speed and elegance rarely seen in this country.
However, in 2008, it all began to unravel for the Ironi Kiryat Shmona forward.
Avisdris was arrested as part of a police crackdown on drug dealers in the north of the country, which eventually resulted in jail time.
Avisdris’s friends claimed that he was only trying to impress a girl – one who unfortunately turned out to be an undercover policewoman – by telling her that he could provide her with drugs.
But the court convicted the player, sentencing him to six months of community service and a suspended prison term.
Kiryat Shmona owner Izi Shirazki, who supports the city in a variety of ways in addition to the soccer club, refused to forsake Avisdris and promised the court that he would take him under his wing.
However, six months at a local YMCA proved to be more than Avisdris was willing to handle. He ended up spending time in prison, claiming that he himself asked for the community service to be converted to jail time, as it was getting in the way of his career.
Avisdris promised that he would never slip-up again, and he began to fulfill his potential last season when he helped Kiryat Shmona to Premier League promotion.
However, his murky past continued to haunt him, and he spent five days on housearrest last September after being questioned in connection with another drug bust.
No charges were ultimately pressed and in recent months his career had really begun to take off.
Despite only playing a minor role in Kiryat Shmona’s outstanding league campaign, making 11 appearances, he was instrumental in bringing the club its first ever title in January.
After coming on as a substitute, Avisdris scored a stoppage time equalizer against Bnei Yehuda in the Toto Cup semifinals before slotting in the decisive spot kick in the penalty shootout.
In the final against Maccabi Petah Tikva, he also entered the match from the bench, this time scoring in the 82nd minute, repaying Shirazki for his support with a winner which gave the club NIS 1.1 million in prize money.
Once more Avisdris was being talked about for the right reasons, but yet again it wouldn’t last for long.
According to the police report, Avisdris arrived at the home of local journalist Ran Bar-Maoz last Thursday night and both threatened and physically assaulted him.
Bar-Maoz filed a complaint at the local police station and Avisdris was detained, with the Nazareth Magistrate Court extending his remand for three days on Friday morning.
While his teammates were facing Maccabi Tel Aviv on Saturday in a crucial showdown for a place in the Europa League next season, Avisdris was at Kishon Prison, wondering how it could have all gone so wrong once again.
Avisdris was released on Sunday morning and, not surprisingly, had a different version of events when he rejoined the club in training on Tuesday.
“I heard the journalist, who lives next door to me, saying bad things about me to his friends in the garden,” Avisdris claimed. “I went up to him and asked him to stop bad-mouthing me. I never slapped him and people are turning an ant into an elephant.
I asked him to stop speaking about me and walked away. He chased me back to my home and said: ‘I will end your career.’” Avisdris is expected to face charges for last week’s incident, and considering his record, it is anyone’s guess how a trial will end.
Kiryat Shmona remains adamant in its support of its player and is not planning on any severe disciplinary action.
Avisdris has squandered chance after chance, finding trouble on a more consistent basis than the back of the net.
Kiryat Shmona has helped him more than must clubs would, but even Shirazki’s patience is bound to run out at some stage.
As Avisdris may sadly learn, even the best of strikers can end up striking out.
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