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Yossef Shai Benayoun ( ; born 5 May 1980), is an Israelimarker football player currently playing for Liverpool in the English Premier League. Benayoun plays as an attacking midfielder, occupying the space just behind the striker. In Israel, he is nicknamed "The Diamond," or "The Kid", and he is the captain of the Israeli national team.

Early years

Jason Burt writing for The Independent described Benayoun's youth years: "aged nine and he was spotted as a footballing talent. Aged 11 and the talent was labelled a genius. By 13, his face appeared on the front of magazines in Israel." Benayoun started his career aged nine with Hapoel Be'er Sheva. To attend training, he regularly hitchhiked the 60 km roundtrip with his father. After making a name for himself, he was scouted by Ajax. His shirt number while playing for Ajax was 14. They invited the 15-year-old Benayoun and his family to the Netherlandsmarker. By his 16th birthday, he was the Ajax youth team's highest scorer and best player, and Ajax duly offered Benayoun a four-year professional contract. However, Benayoun and his family hadn't settled very well in Amsterdammarker, and so he turned his back on the contract and returned to Israel after just eight months.

Club career

Hapoel Be'er Sheva

At the age of 17, he was promoted to the Hapoel Be'er Sheva senior team for the 1997–98 Liga Leumit, but could not prevent the club from being relegated to Israel's second division. In the last match of the season against Maccabi Haifa, Benayoun got a penalty kick in the 90th minute. Haifa's goalkeeper, Nir Davidovich, saved the shot but Benayoun scored the rebound to give his team the win. However, their relegation rival had won their match, meaning that his team would be relegated nonetheless. Seconds after scoring, while celebrating the winning and what he thought to be a league survival goal, Benayoun found out about the relegation and burst into tears. Benayoun finished as the league's joint fourth leading goalscorer that season, with 15 goals in 25 appearances.

Maccabi Haifa

After that season, Benayoun moved to Maccabi Haifa in a deal signed by Ya'akov Shahar (Maccabi Haifa's president) and Eli Zino (the former Be'er Sheva president), and it was agreed that the two clubs would share the profits from selling Benayoun to a European club.

In 1998, under the guidance of Dusan Uhrin and Daniel Brailovsky, Benayoun and Haifa reached the quarterfinals of the Cup Winners' Cup, and he scored a late equaliser against Paris Saint-Germain and also against SV Ried in a 4-1 victory.

Benayoun also scored 16 goals in 29 matches for Haifa in the 1998–99 Liga Leumit, finishing the season as the equal eighth leading goalscorer.

In 1999, he confronted his manager Eli Cohen, when Benayoun allegedly refused to be substituted during a match. This incident, plus a bad month for the club, ultimately caused Cohen's resignation. In the first ever Israeli Premier League of 1999 to 2000, (this league replaced the Liga Leumit which then became the second tier of club football), Benayoun scored 19 goals in 38 matches for Maccabi Haifa, and was the league's third highest goalscorer.

In the 2000–01 season under the guidance of Avram Grant, Benayoun led Haifa to a first championship after seven years and was chosen as the MVP of the season, after amassing 13 goals in 37 matches. Another successful season placed him as the league's equal sixth highest goalscorer.

The next season, Benayoun helped Maccabi Haifa win another championship, despite suffering from an injury in the beginning of the season. When he returned to play, he combined well with Đovani Roso, Raimondas Žutautas, and Yakubu Aiyegbeni to win the championship. In his last season with Maccabi Haifa, Benayoun scored 7 times in 33 matches.

Benayoun made 130 appearances for Haifa, scoring 55 goals.

Racing de Santander

In 2002, Benayoun moved to Racing de Santander in Spainmarker's La Liga, scoring five goals in 31 matches his first season (2002–03 La Liga), seven goals in 35 matches his second (2003–04 La Liga), and nine goals in 35 matches his third (2003–04 La Liga), the latter including a hat-trick against Deportivo La Coruña in a 4–1 away victory.

In total, he made 101 appearances for Racing, scoring 21 goals.

Santander opted to cash in on Benayoun by selling him to his agents Pini Zahavi and Ronen Katsav for 3.5 million. Benayoun rejected a €5 million move to CSKA Moscow, preferring a move to England or to remain in Spain. This sparked a great deal of interest in the player with Newcastle United, Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool, Bolton Wanderers, Real Sociedad, and Deportivo La Coruña seen as likely suitors.

West Ham United

Newly promoted West Ham United completed the signing of Benayoun in July 2005 for £2.5 million, with Benayoun signing a four-year contract. Manager Alan Pardew hailed the signing citing Benayoun's ability to 'open the door when teams sit deep' while Benayoun revealed his excitement at the opportunity to play for West Ham and in the Premiership.

The signing appeared to be a match made in heaven following Benayoun's first season in which he scored 5 Premier League goals and made 8 Premier League assists. He made his Premiership debut for West Ham on the opening day of the 2005–06 season (13 August 2005 against Blackburn Roversmarker) in West Ham's 3–1 win. He went on to score his first Premiership goal for the club when he netted the closing goal in a 4–0 home victory over Aston Villa on 12 September 2005.

Benayoun played in the 125th FA Cup Final for West Ham against European Champions Liverpool. Benayoun scored 5 times in 34 matches in his first season at West Ham, 3 goals in 29 appearances his second.

Liverpool

Benayoun moved to Liverpool under controversial circumstances. He had verbally agreed a new five-year deal with West Ham in May 2007, only to go back on the agreement in a bid to move to Liverpool The controversy was heightened on 10 July when the Israeli media reported that Benayoun's agent, Ronen Katsav, had agreed a deal with Liverpool which would mean Benayoun taking a lower pay than the £50,000 a week offered by West Ham in May. On 12 July, Liverpool FC reported on their official website that the signing of Yossi Benayoun had been completed a £5 million deal with him signing a four-year contract.

Benayoun was introduced as a Liverpool player along with Ryan Babel on 13 July, and was given the number 11 shirt. He made his first competitive start for Liverpool against Toulouse in the UEFA Champions League qualifier 3rd round 1st leg. His first goal for Liverpool came on the 25 September 2007 when he scored against Reading in the Carling Cup with a wonderful solo effort. Yossi scored a second hat trick against a mismatched opponent in his first season against non-league side Havant & Waterlooville in the FA Cup, a team 122 places behind Liverpool on the league pyramid. Benayoun ended a successful first season having played 48 games scoring 11 goals in the process, including four league goals against Wigan Athletic, Portsmouth, Aston Villa, and Birmingham City.

However, his performance was not enough to prevent transfer rumours in the summer of 2008. This led to the Israeli openly announcing his intention to stay, saying: "Liverpool is good for me and it was always clear I want to stay and Liverpool wants me," Yossi was given his preferred number 15 shirt (which was occupied by Peter Crouch during the 2007–08 season but was vacated when he moved to Portsmouth) for the 2008–09 season. Benayoun had worn the number 11 during his first season at the club, but switched to the number 15, the number he wore for Hapoel Be'er Sheva, Maccabi Haifa, Racing de Santander, West Ham United and Israel.

On 6 December 2008, Benayoun scored his first goal of the 2008–09 season in Liverpool's 3–1 victory over Blackburnmarker.

On 25 February 2009, Benayoun scored a header from Fábio Aurélio's free-kick in the 82nd minute against Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabéumarker in the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 to give Liverpool a 1–0 win . This is probably the most important goal he has scored in his career to date. "To score in the Champions League was special. It was one of the favourite goals of my career...I am really pleased to score at the Bernabeu but the most important thing was to get the victory", Benayoun said after the match.

Again on 4 April 2009, Benayoun came on as a substitute in Liverpool's match against Fulham to score a dramatic winner in the 94th minute. On April 21, 2009, in a home match against Arsenal, he scored a diving header and volleyed a late equaliser in extra time to level the scores at 4–4.

Benayoun finished his second season at Anfield in spectacular fashion; scoring a goal in each of Liverpool's last three home matches. In the 2008–09 season, Benayoun played in 39 matches, scoring 9 goals, including eight league goals against Wigan, Blackburnmarker, Newcastle, Sunderland, Fulham, Tottenham Hotspur and a brace against Arsenal. He established a regular starting position in the Liverpool team in the second half of the season.

On 6 July 2009, he signed a two-year contract extension tying him to the club until 2013.

On 12 September 2009, he scored his first Premier League hat-trick for Liverpool in a 4–0 win against Burnley. It was his third Liverpool hat-trick to date after the ones against Beşiktaş in an 8–0 thrashing and against Havant & Waterlooville in a 5–2 win for Liverpool. He remains the only player to score a Premiership, Champions League and FA Cup hat trick.

International career

Benayoun was a member of the Israel U16 team that came third in the 1996 UEFA European Under-16 Championship.

He made his senior debut for Israel against Portugal in a friendly on 18 November 1998 that resulted in a 2-0 away loss. Benayoun also has an international hat-trick to his name, which was scored in a Euro 2000 qualifier against the San Marino national football team at Ramat Gan Stadiummarker on 8 September 1999. The match finished as an 8-0 win for Israel.

During the 2006 World Cup qualifiers, Benayoun became the leading player of the Israeli national team after equalizing against Cyprus at home (in a game that ended 2–1 to Israel) and scoring twice against Switzerland. In the away game in Cyprus, Benayoun assisted the winning goal after Nir Davidovich saved a crucial goal. His strong performances gave Israel a chance at qualifying for the World Cup, but they missed out on goal difference.

Just prior to the UEFA Euro 2008 qualifiers, Benayoun was given the captaincy of the Israeli national team. In eight appearances in the qualifiers, Benayoun has scored two goals.

International goals

# Date VenueHe also scored a goal Vs man city on 21st November Opponent Score Result Competition
01. 5 September 1999 Tsirion Stadiummarker, Limassolmarker, Cyprusmarker
2 – 2
3 – 2
Euro 2000 qualifying
02. 8 September 1999 Ramat Gan Stadiummarker, Ramat Ganmarker, Israelmarker
1 – 0
8 – 0
Euro 2000 qualifying
03. 8 September 1999 Ramat Gan Stadium, Ramat Gan, Israel
4 – 0
8 – 0
Euro 2000 qualifying
04. 8 September 1999 Ramat Gan Stadium, Ramat Gan, Israel
6 – 0
8 – 0
Euro 2000 qualifying
05. 15 November 2000 Estadio Primeiro de Maiomarker, Braga, Portugalmarker
2 – 1
2 – 1
Friendly
06. 5 September 2002 Stade Josy Barthelmarker, Luxembourg Citymarker, Luxembourgmarker
0 – 5
0 – 5
Friendly
07. 8 September 2004 Ramat Gan Stadium, Ramat Gan, Israel
1 – 1
2 – 1
2006 World Cup qualifying
08. 9 October 2004 Ramat Gan Stadium, Ramat Gan, Israel
1 – 0
2 – 2
2006 World Cup qualifying
09. 9 October 2004 Ramat Gan Stadium, Ramat Gan, Israel
2 – 2
2 – 2
2006 World Cup qualifying
10. 9 February 2005 Teddy Kollek Stadiummarker, Jerusalemmarker, Israelmarker
2 – 2
3 – 3
Friendly
11. 8 October 2005 Ramat Gan Stadium, Ramat Gan, Israel
1 – 0
2 – 1
2006 World Cup qualifying
12. 15 August 2006 Petrol Arena Stadium, Celjemarker, Sloveniamarker
0 – 1
1 – 1
Friendly
13. 6 September 2006 Stadion de Goffertmarker, Nijmegenmarker, Netherlandsmarker
1 – 0
4 – 1
Euro 2008 qualifying
14. 15 November 2006 Ramat Gan Stadium, Ramat Gan, Israel
2 – 3
3 – 4
Euro 2008 qualifying
15. 26 March 2008 Ramat Gan Stadium, Ramat Gan, Israel
1 – 0
1 – 0
Friendly
16. 6 September 2008 Ramat Gan Stadium, Ramat Gan, Israel
1 – 2
2 – 2
2010 World Cup qualifying
17. 11 October 2008 Stade Josy Barthel, Luxembourg City, Luxembourg
0 – 1
1 – 3
2010 World Cup qualifying
18. 15 October 2008 Skonto Stadionsmarker, Rigamarker, Latviamarker
0 – 1
1 – 1
2010 World Cup qualifying
19. 11 February 2009 Ramat Gan Stadium, Ramat Gan, Israel
1 - 0
1 – 0
Friendly


Club statistics

Last updated 21 November 2009
Club Performance
Club Season Premier League FA Cup League Cup Europe Other Total
App Goals App Goals App Goals App Goals App Goals App Goals
West Ham 2005–06 34 5 6 - - - - - - - 40 5
West Ham 2006–07 29 3 1 - - - 2 - - - 32 3
Liverpool 2007–08 30 4 3 3 3 1 11 3 - - 47 11
Liverpool 2008–09 32 8 1 - - - 7 1 - - 40 9
Liverpool 2009–10 13 4 0 0 1 0 4 1 - - 19 6
Club Total 139 25 11 3 4 1 24 5 - - 178 34


Honours

Individual

  • Israeli Premier League Most Valuable Player (1):
    • 2000–01


Club









References

Further reading



External links




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