Yossi Benayoun Retires – Israel’s Greatest Footballer Hangs up his Cleats

Dov Halickman Photography

Yossi Benayoun, Israel’s greatest footballer has announced his retirement from active play. The Dimona native was currently playing for Beitar Jerusalem of the Israel Premier League and will hang up his cleats at the age of 38.

The “Diamond from Dimona” began his illustrious career at the Hapoel Dimona youth department and then moved to Hapoel Beer Sheva. After a spell at the Ajax youth academy, Benayoun returned to Beer Sheva suffered relegation with the club at the end of the 1997/98 season. Following the season, Benayoun moved to Maccabi Haifa where he won back to back championship which paved the way for his move to Europe when he joined Racing Santander in 2002.

Following three years in Spain, Benayoun began his English Premier League career and signed with West Ham United where he spent two seasons before transferring to Liverpool. The Israeli star featured in 92 matches with the Reds while scoring 18 goals over three campaigns. One of his greatest goals, if not the greatest was his UEFA Champions League Round of 16 82nd minute header off a Fabio Aurelio free kick against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu.

Benayoun moved again, this time to Chelsea in 2010 where he won the UEFA Europa League title in 2012/13. He was also loaned out twice during his tenure with the Blues, to Arsenal and West Ham. After the 2013/14 season with QPR, Benayoun returned to Israel where he played for Maccabi Haifa, Maccabi Tel Aviv, Maccabi Petah Tikva and Beitar Jerusalem. In 637 matches, Benayoun scored 168 goals over his 20+ year career.

On the International front Benayoun made 102 appearances for the Israel National Team and scored 24 goals. He is the most capped player for the Blue & White.