Local Soccer: 'El Loco' signs with Betar J'lem

Veteran Uruguayan striker Sebastian Abreu signed for the Premier League champion, moving from Argentinian champs River Plate.

abreu 88 (photo credit: )
abreu 88
(photo credit: )
In a move clearly aimed at signaling its European ambitions, Betar Jerusalem made its first major coup of the summer on Friday when veteran Uruguayan striker Sebastian Abreu signed for the Premier League champion, moving from Argentinian champs River Plate. The 31-year-old, who is known as 'El Loco' due to his 'crazy' dedication to his teams, signed his contract with Betar at a press conference in the capital having already spoken of his intentions. "The aim of Betar is clear - to get into Europe," Abreu said. "I am familiar with the level of the team, I heard that Beitar wants to get to the Champions League and I heard it was the champion of Israel for the last two years in a row. I want to give my all in order to help the team get into the Champions League." Last August Jerusalem lost to FC Copenhagen in the first stage of qualification for the UEFA Champions league. It will have another chance this season where it will again need to get through two qualifying rounds to make it into the prestigious Champions League group stage. This will be the 13th club Abreu has played for in a career which has so far spanned 12 years, five countries and seen him score more than 270 goals. He is a longtime Uruguayan international, having played 42 times for his country in the last 12 years, including appearances at the 2002 World Cup and 2007 Copa America. Upon his arrival in Israel on Thursday Abreu was greeted at Ben Gurion airport by hundreds of fanatic Betar supporters who surrounded him, chanting his name. "I would like to thank the club that gave me the opportunity to begin a new path in my career and I want to thank all the fans that came to welcome me yesterday," Abreu said at the press conference. "There will be enough time for me to get to know my teammates and the coach who brought me to the club." Abreu clearly has no problem with the nickname he has been given, and even has an official Web site - loco13abreu.com - dedicated to his career. "I am a very happy player and a friend at one of my old clubs gave me the nickname 'El Loco'. I always give my all for the team and that is why I received this name," he explained. Abreu is already the second South American player to move to Betar this offseason, following the arrival of Argentinian Dario Fernandez earlier this month. The team began preseason training last week and Abreu will join the squad on July 9. The press conference introducing Abreu occurred just a few hours after the team said good-bye to midfielder Gal Alberman who has signed for German Bundesliga side Borussia Monchengladbach.