Sporting Heroes: No. 39 Eli Ohana

Teddy Stadium's "king" has transcended time to become a lifelong legend in the eyes of the supporters.

ohana..88 (photo credit: )
(photo credit: )
Betar Jerusalem fans are a fickle bunch. One minute a Jerusalem player is their hero and can do no wrong, until they suddenly discard him in favor of the new flavor in town. There are, of course exceptions; players who have transcended time to become lifelong legends in the eyes of the supporters. The all-time number one in this category is Eli Ohana, known as "The King" amongst the Teddy Stadium faithful. Ohana grew up in the Betar youth system. He quickly moved up the ranks and, alongside Uri Malmilian, turned into the superstar of the Betar team of the 80s which won the club its first league title in 1987. That year, aged 23, Ohana moved to Belgian club Mechelen where he became the only Israeli soccer player to win a European title when Mechelen won the 1988 European Cup Winners Cup. After his success in Belgium, Ohana returned to Betar in 1991 where he played for another eight years, during which the team won the league another three times. He also starred for the Israel national team, most memorably when he scored a stunning individual goal against Australia in a World Cup qualifier in 1989. Ohana has had a less than succesful coaching career which included two periods at Betar and two at Bnei Yehuda. To this day, despite his failures as Betar coach, Ohana is so revered at Jerusalem that the supporters sing his name and hold up banners praising him each time he brings his Hapoel Kfar Saba side to the capital. Tomorrow: The man who was known as 'Mr Basketball'