Yossi Benayoun, Israel's greatest footballer, retires
The electrifying midfielder who played for Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal is hanging it up after 22 years.
The Diamond of Dimona is calling it a career. Yossi Benayoun, the modern wide forward who is widely considered Israel's greatest football import, announced his retirement this week after 22 years in the sport. The 38-year-old spent much of his career in England's Premiere League, dominating for Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal clubs before returning to his birthplace for the last five years of his career.
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.
"I am sure that the next chapter will be challenging and no less exciting," Benayoun, who last played for Beitar Jerusalem and captained the Israeli National Team, wrote in a touching Instagram post. "I went with my truth, and so I will always keep going."
Benayoun, long regarded for his impressive dribbling, began his career at age 16 at Israel's Hapoel Beersheva, then enjoyed two spells with Maccabi Haifa before joining Spanish side Racing Santander in 2002, followed by West Ham three years later. He joined Liverpool in 2007.
With the Reds, Benayoun appeared in 92 matches and scored 18 goals. He's one of just three players to score a hat-trick in the Premiere League, Champions League and FA Cup, after Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero and Tottenham forward Harry Kane.
Known internationally as "Yoss the Boss," Benayoun helped Liverpool mount a title challenge in 2008-09, contributing key goals to their run-in during the spring of 2009. 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.
In his farewell post, Benayoun credited his success to his wife, Mirit, and their five children. "Mirit, what am I without you?" he said. "From the day we held hands in school, I felt that no matter where our lives took us, we went through this together hand in hand. ... Living next to you is my greatest achievement, being yours is my most prestigious title, returning home at the end of every day and seeing you is my own victory."
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