Best sports moments of 2007: Grant's appointment

Avraham Grant's appointment as Chelsea coach shocked the sports world.

avram grant 248 88 ap (photo credit: AP [file])
avram grant 248 88 ap
(photo credit: AP [file])
Leaving the office late on the night of September 19, the name Avraham Grant couldn't have been further from my mind. The former Israel coach had inexplicably managed to insert himself into the upper echelons of English soccer without actually proving himself as a coach outside of Israel. Since his appointment as Director of Football at Chelsea in the summer Grant had been practically anonymous, hardly speaking to the media and not doing anything obvious at the London club apart from apparently annoying then-manager Jose Mourinho. With the first day of Israel's Davis Cup tie against Chile taking place the following morning and Hapoel Tel Aviv's UEFA Cup group stage match against AIK Solna in the evening, there seemed to be more important things to worry about. Less than 12 hours later the situation could not have been more different. Suddenly a sports story was the main news story on nearly every television channel, radio station and Web site. Everyone seemed to be stunned when the official Chelsea Web site announced that Grant had been made manager, with good reason. Sitting in the media room at the Ramat Hasharon Tennis Center in between sets I frantically checked the English and world media just to make sure it was true. It felt great to see the world's sports media focusing on an Israeli. It had happened before when Yossi Benayoun rose to prominence at West Ham but never on this scale. Soon a number of radio stations called to ask my opinion on Roman Abramovich's strange decision. Nearly every sports pundit was sure it was a mistake and that Grant would surely fail. I must admit I had agreed. How could this dour-faced, impersonable man take control of Chelsea when the legendary Mourinho couldn't? English sports reporters were already predicting that Grant, who Chelsea called 'Avram' even though he had been known as Avraham, would be out of a job within a month or two and it was hard to see it turning out otherwise. Amazingly we have all been proved wrong. The not very special one has taken Chelsea by storm, of sorts, and rejuvenated the team. I'm sure he will now look back on that morning in September as the start of his new legacy. But for us journalists it was simply the day Grant shocked the sports world.