By ALLON SINAI
After more than a year outside of soccer, Avraham Grant made a dramatic return to the English Premier League on Wednesday.
The 54-year-old signed a two-year deal to re-join Portsmouth in a director of football role he formerly occupied in the 2006/07 season during Harry Redknapp's managerial tenure.
Grant left Fratton Park for a similar position at Chelsea two summers ago and was appointed as the Blues manager in September 2007 after Jose Mourinho departed the club.
His eight tumultuous months at Stamford Bridge ended in tears after the team failed to claim a title under his guidance, finishing second in the Premier League and losing the Champions League final in a penalty shootout to Manchester United in what proved to be Grant's last match in charge.
Grant has since claimed he could have returned to his former role as director of football at Chelsea, and in an interview with The Jerusalem Post last summer said he has had many offers and is only still out of work because he is holding out for a coaching job at a Premier League club.
However, that offer apparently never came as Grant has now chosen to return to the role he held at Pompey three years ago.
Portsmouth, which was taken over by Saudi Arabian property magnate Ali Al-Faraj on Monday, is rock bottom of the Premier League after losing its first seven league games. The team finally picked up its first points of the season on Saturday, beating Wolves 1-0.
Grant, who will begin working on Monday, has the task of helping manager Paul Hart save the club from relegation.
Pompey chief executive Peter Storrie stressed on Tuesday that the Israeli will be working alongside the English manager, acting as a conduit between the playing side and the board.
"The club's new owners want to appoint with immediate effect, Avram Grant as director of football," Storrie said. "People can construe it how they like - the fact is he [Grant] has been brought in as a director of football and that has been made abundantly clear.
"He will work with Paul and do exactly the same as what he did with Harry. He will be involved in the coaching.
"Paul selects the team but he is missing an experienced man alongside him at the moment."
England and Portsmouth goalkeeper David James welcomed the appointment of Grant.
"I love Avram, he's a great guy," he said at an England national team news conference ahead of Saturday's World Cup qualifying game in Ukraine.
"When I first joined the club he was there and he was very active in preparation for matches. He's a very wise man. His football knowledge is immense. It's a very good move."
James said the arrival of Al-Faraj as the new owner would bring financial stability to the cash-strapped club, which was unable to pay the players' wages on time last week.
"The non-pay issue was not good," James said. "The people who needed to get paid got paid but it was more the bigger picture. Now we've got our first win and our first clean sheet, it's a much happier place."
AP contributed to this report.
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