The best Israeli footballers ever to play in the Premier League
See if you remember this elite fivesome who dazzled for Liverpool, Man City, Chelsea, Arsenal and more.
In a league known for its world-class clubs, star-studded signings and global icons, Israel has recently imported more talent to England's Premier League. With Israeli whiz kid Moanes Dabour freshly linked to Liverpool, this got us thinking about the most decorated Israel-born footballers to play in one of the world's elite leagues.
Widely considered Israel's best import, "Yoss the Boss" was a winger known for his dribbling flair and timely finishing. These attributes kept him in the starting lineup of a Premier League team for close to a decade. After coming over to England in 2005 to West Ham, Dimona-born Benayoun quickly made a jump to a top 4 side to Liverpool for a fee of 5 million pounds, a record for an Israeli footballer.
While at Liverpool, he helped the club mount a title challenge in 2008-09, contributing key goals to their run-in during the spring of 2009. However, he's best known for his herculean performance in a 4-4 draw against Arsenal, pitching in two goals and an assist in a match that is considered one of the greatest games in the Premier League era.
He then contributed majorly to two other major English clubs, Chelsea and Arsenal, both based in London. He was part of the 2010 Chelsea team that won the UEFA Europa League, marking the first major European trophy for an Israeli player at an English club. His 31 Premier League goals and 22 assists are both records by an Israel-born player. His outstanding contributions paved the way for many clubs to send additional scouts to the Israeli leagues, scouring the Mediterranean country for the next Israeli player with his level of flair and composure.
Tal Ben Haim
Tal Ben Haim has played for Maccabi Tel Aviv, Bolton Wanderers, Chelsea, Manchester City, Sunderland, Portsmouth, West Ham United, Queens Park Rangers, Standard Liége and Charlton Athletic. (Photo: Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)
Another successful mainstay of one of Europe's top leagues, Ben Haim became Israel's longest tenured player in the Premier League, serving seven clubs in nine full seasons. He was able to play for Chelsea in the infancy of their meteoric rise in the league, and appeared in the Champions League – which is Europe's most prestigious competition. He was also an early building block to Manchester City's newfound era of dominance.
A defender known more for his strength and stamina, Ben Haim chipped in 168 appearances in England across all competitions. He was able to be tactically flexible, stepping in either as a center back, or sliding out as a right back in a zonal marking system.
Haifa-born "Rocket Ronny" Rosenthal joined Liverpool at the tail end of their unprecedented era of success in March of 1990, and was able to enjoy a league championship that season under iconic Anfield manager Kenny Daglish. He enjoyed more success at both Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur over the next seven seasons.
Despite always having to fight for his place in the team, Rosenthal netted 25 Premier League goals over the course of his career, making him the highest-scoring Israeli player at the time of his retirement.
A former Israeli Footballer of the Year, Regba-born Berkovic came to the Premier League on a temporary basis to Southampton in 1996. His ability to provide assists to the team's strikers helped keep the club in the Premier League that year. He was then snatched up permanently by famous manager Harry Redknapp to add an attacking element to West Ham United. He was deployed in his natural role of a "number 10" – a creative midfielder who could lead the attack.
He also had very successful stints with Manchester City and Portsmouth, scoring 23 career goals in England's top-flight league. His record of 41 Premier League assists still tops all Israeli players, and he is regarded in the highest esteem in many of his clubs – especially Southampton.
A central midfielder with a footballer for a father, Tamir Cohen's time in the Premier League was exclusive to Bolton Wanderers beginning in 2007. He made 49 appearances for the Trotters, scoring 6 goals across all competitions.
Tel Aviv-born Cohen is probably best known for a goal that he scored on April 25, 2009, against Aston Villa, which earned Bolton a vital point in their fight to stave off relegation out of the Premier League. He had a lot of family at the match, and they had given him a lucky shekel before kickoff. After scoring, he pulled the shekel from his sock and ran over to where his family was sitting, celebrating the massive goal with them.
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