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Eyal Berkovic ( ), also spelled Berkovich, born 2 April, 1972 in Regbamarker, Israelmarker) is a former Israelimarker footballer. He played as a midfielder.

Although not a frequent scorer, he has been known to score crucial goals, some of which have been quite spectacular. Hailed by many for his intelligence and ability to avoid tackles and fouls from defenders, he is considered to be one of Israel's best football players. Because of his amazing assists, he is known in Israel by the nickname Ha-Kossem (lit. "The Magician").

Aside from his footballing talent, Berkovic is also known for his temperament. He has had several clashes with team-mates, most notably the Israeli footballers Reuven Atar and Eli Ohana, Kevin Keegan (his manager when at Manchester City), and Welshmarker striker John Hartson. His autobiography Ha-Kosem sparked controversy with the Israeli football scene because of the sharp and straight criticism of many of its figures.

He is the older brother of footballer Nir Berkovic.

Early career

Berkovic started his career at Maccabi Haifa in 1989, playing there until 1996. During his time with the club he won league titles in 1990–91 and 1993–94, and the State Cup three times, including a 'double' in the 1990–91 season. His performances for the club earned him a call-up to the Israeli national team as well as the MVP award for the 1993–94 season.

Move to England

For the 1996–97 season, Berkovic signed on a season-long loan for Englishmarker club Southampton. He proved to be a big influence, and was a major part of the famous 6-3 victory over Manchester United, as he scored twice and got three assists.

The next season he was signed by West Ham United for £1.75 million, for whom he played for two seasons, appearing in 64 games. Striker John Hartson had a prolific season that term for West Ham helped by Berkovic's assists. In a training ground bust-up between the two, Hartson kicked Berkovic in the face, after the Israeli midfielder had punched Hartson in the leg as he attempted to help Berkovic to his feet after a crunching tackle. The incident was captured on camera. Hartson was fined for the incident.

Soon after the incident he was then signed for £5.75 million by Celtic, who were at that point coached by John Barnes. He played for the Scottishmarker club for two years scoring ten goals but Martin O'Neill left him out of the team when he took over the Glasgow giants as manager and Berkovic returned to England to join Blackburn Roversmarker on loan for the 2000–01 season, where he scored twice against QPR and Grimsby. He remained only a short while before a permanent move to Manchester City the following year.

Manchester City

His first game for the blue half of Manchestermarker saw him score in a man of the match display against Watford. In his second game for the team he contracted an injury which prompted the team to sign an additional playmaker in the form of Ali Benarbia. When Eyal returned the City team began to play with both playmakers in a 3-5-2 formation with Kevin Horlock operating in the anchor midfield position. This was a successful formation earning City promotion in a most emphatic style. In an FA Cup game against then-Premiership team Ipswich Town F.C. Berkovic scored a volley goal set up by Ali Benarbia from a corner and City duly beat the team in the league above them 4-1. The following season when City were in the Premiership Berkovic was instrumental in a 3-1 victory over local rivals Manchester United, a team he had also helped Southampton demolish 6-3 in the 1996-97 season scoring two goals. The tactic of playing with two playmakers was continued in the Premiership but although City were playing well, results were not too favourable to begin with and Keegan decided that he would play with only one playmaker and that that would be Berkovic. Berkovic was voted as Manchester City's player of the season in 2002-03 in the club's magazine by former player and radio personality Gary Owen and was also described by Keegan as 'world class'.


Despite becoming a firm favourite with the fans, a fallout with manager Kevin Keegan saw him transferred to Portsmouth for the 2003-04 season. Ironically his first game for Pompey was against Manchester City whom he helped beat 4-2. After the game he publicly lambasted Kevin Keegan stating that:
I don't see any reason why Kevin didn't play me because I was the best player in training for six months and everyone knew that.
Man City's 45,000 supporters knew I had to play but Kevin was behaving like a big baby.
I told him that and I think he deserves the sack.
He also stated that Keegan had lost the dressing room and that the Manchester City players no longer believed in their manager . Keegan responded publicly by saying:
He should learn to keep his counsel.
He's entitled to his opinion and he's bitter - but I've no axe to grind.
I wished him good luck when he left and tried to make the move as easy as possible as he wanted to go.
His comments don't bother me one little bit.
I have had worse said about me before and I don't think Eyal will be the only person in my career who says I should be sacked.

Berkovic soon established himself in the first team at Pompey where he was reunited with former West Ham United manager Harry Redknapp, and became a vital part of their drive for Premier League survival, scoring his first goal against Tottenham Hotspur.

However, despite scoring twice against Fulham in the league and Leeds in the League Cup, he failed to hold down a regular starting place in the team for the 2004-05 season season, mainly due to Redknapp's departure, and in January 2005 left Portsmouth. He had been linked with a move to Crystal Palace F.C. but instead decided to return to the country of his birth. He wanted to return to Maccabi Haifa but was rejected, leading him to a decision to sign for rivals Maccabi Tel-Aviv.

Berkovic has played 82 caps and scored 14 goals for the Israeli national team, but was left out of the World Cup 2006 qualifying campaign by coach Avraham Grant.


He announced his retirement from professional football on 7 May 2006. In the summer of 2006 he was appointed as the general manager of Maccabi Netanya. However he was manager only for two months and did not even have the chance to manage the team in season games. He stated that he left the job due to poor professional relations with Daniel Jammer (who is the club's owner and chairman). Berkovic had been an active manager in the transfer market during his two months signing fifteen players including Mazuwa Nsumbu, Liran Strauber and Itay Shechter.

Yossi Benayoun has stated that Eyal Berkovic was a contributing factor in his move to English Premier League side West Ham United, Berkovic's former club. He joined the newly promoted West Ham in 2005 and shocked Bolton Wanderers manager Sam Allardyce who had offered Benayoun a much bigger wage and were in the running for Champions League places.

He is married and has two children.


Maccabi Haifa


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