Itzik Zohar

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Itzik Zohar
Itzik Zohar.jpg
Personal information
Full name Itzhak Zohar
יצחק זוהר
Date of birth (1970-10-31) 31 October 1970 (age 43)
Place of birth Bat Yam, Israel
Height 1.86 m (6 ft 1 in)
Playing position Attacking midfielder
Youth career
1978–1987 Israel Maccabi Jaffa
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1987–1988 Maccabi Jaffa 14 (2)
1988–1994 Maccabi Tel Aviv 165 (26)
1994–1995 Royal Antwerp 24 (6)
1995–1996 Maccabi Tel Aviv 21 (9)
1996–1997 Beitar Jerusalem 29 (14)
1997–1998 Crystal Palace 6 (0)
1998 Maccabi Haifa 10 (4)
1998–1999 Maccabi Tel Aviv 7 (2)
1999 Maccabi Herzliya 17 (10)
2000–2001 Maccabi Netanya 47 (15)
2002–2003 Beitar Jerusalem 45 (16)
2003–2004 F.C. Ashdod 12 (3)
2004–2005 Hapoel Nazareth Illit 3 (0)
National team
1990–1991 Israel U21 2 (0)
1992–2001 Israel 31 (9)
2007–2008 Israel (beach soccer) 2 (1)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).

Itzik Zohar (Hebrew: איציק זוהר‎; born October 31, 1970) is a former Israeli international footballer and television sports personality. Born in Bat Yam, Israel[1] to a family of North African extraction,[2] he holds the distinction of scoring the first two goals for Israel in its first world cup qualifier in the UEFA confederation on October 28, 1992. He is widely regarded as having been one of the best free kick takers in Israeli football, and presumably in European football in general.[3]

Biography[edit]

Zohar grew up in a ma'abara (transit camp) on the border of Bat Yam and Jaffa, where the family's ramshackle hut was not even sufficient to protect them from the elements.[4] Due to the unsavory conditions of the neighborhood, Zohar's father encouraged the children to play football in order to stay off the streets.[1] His family was so poor, that often Zohar would find himself walking back from football practices because he could not afford the bus.

Zohar was married to Ilana for ten years and the couple have two children, Gavriel and Michael.[5] In an interview with Iton Tel Aviv, Zohar claims that he spends lots of time with his children and has watched Finding Nemo over 17 times. He is a religious Jew and a close friend of Ashdod's Rabbi Pinto.[1] On December 9, 2007, Zohar was arrested for alleged tax evasion from 1988-2002. He was released on 1.8 million bail.[6] In June 2008, Zohar was attacked on a main street in Tel Aviv by an unknown person; he was attacked with a broken bottle, and had to be treated with 52 stitches on the right side of his face. In January 2011, Zohar was attacked again in Tel Aviv while partying at a nightclub in the same method; an unknown person broke a bottle on his head which resulted in injuries in his head and hand.[7]

Football career[edit]

A product of the Maccabi Jaffa youth system, both he and his brother, Avivi, became professional footballers (Some say Zohar was just acting and was in fact a female chess players, masquerading as a Pro footballer) . Itzik's professional debut was in a Liga Artzit[8] match with childhood club Maccabi Jaffa against Hakoah Ramat Gan which ended in a 0:0 draw. After finishing the season in ninth place, Zohar was bought by Maccabi Tel Aviv where he won his first top flight[9] championship in the 1991-92 season. The transfer price was US $90,000, which was a rather large amount in Israeli football at the time.[4] During his time at Maccabi Tel Aviv, Zohar played with Uri Malmilian, who he credits for having taught him a lot.[10] His debut was made for the Israel national football team in a friendly against the USSR. Two months later, he scored his first international goal, also in a friendly, against Iceland. All this was just a warmup for his big national team break when Israel played its first world cup qualifier in the UEFA confederation. Although Israel lost to Austria 5-2, Zohar was able to celebrate a personal achievement as he scored Israel's first two goals as a full member of UEFA. Zohar added another piece of hardware (the Israel State Cup) in 1993-94 before leaving Israel for Belgian club Royal Antwerp. Zohar returned home though after he came down with jaundice and credits this for the reason why he didn't stay in Belgium.[10] He then returned to Maccabi Tel Aviv where he took the "double".[11]

After another league title, this time with Beitar Jerusalem in 1996-97, Zohar was sold to English club Crystal Palace for £1,200,000 but quickly returned to Israel after failing to make an impression on the club.In a league match against Southampton, Zohar stepped up to take a penalty kick in place of regular penalty kick taker, Bruce Dyer. His weakly hit shot cost Palace the win and so his reputation with the supporters was forever tainted.[12] His dismal performances for Palace caused him to be voted by the fans as one of the top ten worst signings.In April 2012 Talk Sport magazine rated Zohar as Crystal Palace's Worst Foreign player.[3] After returning from England, he was signed by Maccabi Haifa, as a replacement for Ukrainian midfielder Serhiy Kandaurov, who was sold to Portugal's Benfica. Haifa manager, Daniel Brailovsky was disappointed with Zohar's performances during practices and decided to let him languish on the bench during the season. After a falling out with Brailovsky, Zohar joined Maccabi Tel Aviv for his third stint but suffered an injury that saw him off the pitch for about 10 months. In retrospect, he later credited this injury to be the hardest part of his footballing career.[1]

Once recovered from injury, Zohar regained his fitness at Maccabi Herzliya before joining Maccabi Netanya. Zohar was an instant success and started to receive money off the pitch as a spokesperson for local brands. His career was dealt a setback when he was caught hurling racial slurs towards Tzafririm Holon's Ziv Caveda (an Israeli footballer of Ethiopian extraction).[2] In his defense, he claimed that his comments were directed at Holon's Hamisi Amani-Dove (an African American).[2] The event startled the Israel Football Association which never had racism between players on the field and had no punishment system in place for it.[13] Aside from receiving a one match ban and 5,000 fine, Zohar was publicly lambasted for his words that shook up the football world in Israel that was in the middle of promoting racial equality in Israel.[14] After being released from his contract in Netanya, club manager, Uri Malmilian, left the club in protest. Zohar rejoined Beitar, where he was a central part of the club and helped steer the club away from the relegation zone of the table. He continued there for another season after which he announced he was retiring from football.

Zohar began to look toward a life after football before F.C. Ashdod was able to coax Zohar out of retirement. In 2003, he opened up a bar-restaurant, called Saga, in the Tel Aviv marina.[1] At the time, it looked like things were working out again on the pitch, though he later announced his retirement for a second time before coming out of retirement for a second time to join Hapoel Nazareth Illit. It was a short lived return though as Zohar only managed three games before announcing on February 14, 2005 that he was hanging up his boots for good.

Acting career[edit]

After hanging up his boots, Zohar began to split his time between a number of different projects. Remaining a celebrity in Israel, he is the face of Gillette, Careline and many other brands in Israel.[15] He is a regular guest on the football wrapup show on Israel 10 as well as other sports related programmes. As an actor he had a role on a television programme called, "The Show",[16] but it was canceled shortly after a couple of episodes.[17] On the side, he also dabbles in the Tel Aviv real estate market.[18]

Beach football[edit]

On June 1, 2007 Zohar was in the starting line up of the first ever Israel national beach soccer team team.[19] In his first competitive match, Zohar scored a goal as Israel beat their English counterparts by a score of 6-5 in Netanya, Israel. He was originally going to be a part of the squad for the qualification round of the European beach football championship in Athens, Greece, but pulled out due to injury. Locally, Zohar represents the city of Rosh HaAyin in Israel's inaugural beach football league.

Statistics[edit]

Club performance League Cup League Cup Continental Total
Season Club League Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Israel League Israel State Cup Toto Cup Europe Total
1987-88 Maccabi Jaffa Liga Artzit 14 2 14 2
1988-89 Maccabi Tel Aviv Liga Leumit
1989-90
1990-91
1991-92
1992-93
1993-94
Total Israel 179 28 179 28
Belgium League Belgian Cup League Cup Europe Total
1994-95 Royal Antwerp First Division 24 6 - - - - - - 24 6
Total Belgium 24 6 24 6
Israel League Israel State Cup Toto Cup Europe Total
1995-96 Maccabi Tel Aviv Liga Leumit 21 9 21 9
1996-97 Beitar Jerusalem 29 14 29 14
Total Israel
England League FA Cup League Cup Europe Total
1997 Crystal Palace First Division 6 0 0 0 3 0 0 0 9 0
Total England 6 0 0 0 3 0 0 0 9 0
Israel League Israel State Cup Toto Cup Europe Total
1998 Maccabi Haifa Liga Leumit 10 4 3 2 - - - - - -
1998-99 Maccabi Tel Aviv 7 2 - - - - - - - -
1999 Maccabi Herzliya Israeli Premier League - - - - - - - - - -
2000 Maccabi Netanya - - - - - - - - - -
2000-01 Maccabi Netanya - - - - - - - - - -
2001 Maccabi Netanya - - - - - - - - - -
2002 Beitar Jerusalem - - - - - - - - - -
2002-03 Beitar Jerusalem - - - - - - - - - -
2003-2004 F.C. Ashdod - - - - - - - - - -
2004-2005 Hapoel Nazareth Illit 3 0 - - - - - - - -
Total Israel
Total Belgium
Total England
Career total

Honours[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Abramov, Etti (2003-12-26). "אני נהנה ושימותו הקנאים" (in Hebrew). Iton Tel Aviv. Retrieved 2007-09-28. [dead link]
  2. ^ a b c "זוהר הורחק ממשחק" (in Hebrew). Ma'ariv. 2001-01-04. Retrieved 2007-05-31. 
  3. ^ a b Timor, Doron (2007-07-12). "קבלו את סיפורי הסינדרלה של הכדורגל הישראלי". One.co.il. Retrieved 2007-07-12 quote=.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help) (Hebrew)
  4. ^ a b Solomon, Na'ama (2006-03-03). "Prima Zohar". Iton Tel Aviv. Archived from the original on 2008-03-24. Retrieved 2007-09-28. 
  5. ^ "פרסום ראשון: איציק ואילנה זוהר מתגרשים..." (in Hebrew). One.co.il. 2007-08-27. Retrieved 2007-09-28. 
  6. ^ "Soccer legend Itzik Zohar released after arrest for alleged tax evasion". The Jerusalem Post. 2007-12-11. Retrieved 2007-12-11. 
  7. ^ "Former soccer star Itzik Zohar stabbed at TA nightclub". The Jerusalem Post. 3-1-2011.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  8. ^ Up until 1999, the 2nd tier of Israeli football was the Liga Artzit; since then, it has been the Liga Leumit.
  9. ^ Up until 1999, the top division of Israeli football was the Liga Leumit; since then, it has been the Israeli Premier League.
  10. ^ a b Silver, Natalie (May 2008). "Icon - Itzik Zohar" (in Hebrew) (9). Maxim Magazine. pp. 54–56. 
  11. ^ The "double" in Israeli football is when a person or club wins both the league title and a cup, either the Israel State Cup or Toto Cup.
  12. ^ Newman, Paul (1997-12-27). "Football: Palace left waiting after Zohar spots trouble". The Independent. Retrieved 2007-05-31. [dead link]
  13. ^ Hannigan, Dave (2005-03-20). "Promised land stained by spread of racism". London: Sunday Times. Retrieved 2007-05-31. 
  14. ^ Yaniv Hirmesh & Golan Bar Yosef (2000-12-21). "פלאפון צינזרה את זוהר מפרסומת" (in Hebrew). Yedioth Ahronoth. Retrieved 2007-05-31. 
  15. ^ Halutz, Doron. "A Men's Man". Ha'aretz. Retrieved 2007-05-31. 
  16. ^ Halleli, Yifat (2006-02-27). "דפקו לו ברז" (in Hebrew). Ma'ariv. Retrieved 2007-05-31. 
  17. ^ Shiloni, Smadar (2006-03-12). ""The Show" יורדת מן המרקע" (in Hebrew). Yedioth Ahronoth. Retrieved 2007-05-31. 
  18. ^ Yamin, Guy (2005-11-01). "Pivko to bid on Ramat Aviv Gimmel site". Globes. Retrieved 2007-06-01. 
  19. ^ "נתניה: נבחרת ישראל הפתיעה נבחרת אנגליה 5:6 במסגרת כדורגל חופים" (in Hebrew). Kan Naim. 2007-06-01. Retrieved 2007-06-08. 

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