Israel begins their final push towards the 2024 European Championships when they play four qualifiers in 9 days with the first coming on Sunday night at Kosovo. As we lead up to the opener, striker Shon Weissman who plays for Granada in Spain spoke about his feelings as the national team gets back onto the pitch.
“We can’t even think about football, we are the ambassadors of the country and if we can get our people to smile a bit, that’s what we are here to do. The situation gives us an extra drive. We are the soldiers biggest fans and today football seems so unimportant but if can get some people to smile then that’s everything. My heart is always with Israel, even when I’m not here physically, even more so in such a bad situation. I’m happy to be here and hope that better times are ahead.”
The Granada striker didn’t go to the away match against Osasuna when there were threats against him, ”I kept quiet for my personal safety and that of my family, I have a wife and two children who are the most important things to me. I realized that by saying anything it would not help, even though I am the country’s number one ambassador. As I speak here tears are pouring down my face, it’s not an easy time. In general, being a Jew in Europe is not the most fun, thank God the team stood behind me and were with me, that was important to me.”
“Sometimes there are things that are bigger than football, there were warnings from the government, it was a very delicate situation and football at this point was not the most important thing, both my heart and head were just not there. This will never happen again, we are returning to ourselves and will show everyone what we can do what we want as proud Jews. I feel safe, thank God everything is fine and we are doing everything in order to be safe and sound. As an Israeli abroad I was watching TV 24 hours a say watching the news and crying, with just a horrible feeling. Life and death, not thinking about anything else. But who am I? There are 240 hostages being held in Gaza, there are families who have lost their loved ones and I hope they will return soon and that all the wounded will recover.”
Weissman also spoke about the support he received from other players abroad, “I received a lot of messages from people I hadn’t talked to in a long time. Players from Austria, Spain and Germany, they all gave me strength. One can’t be ignorant, I don’t think there is anyone sane who can ignore what occurred, there is support, but today there are two worlds, those who can express the negative side and those who know the positive but can’t say anything.”
The striker also discussed the team’s situation going into the upcoming qualifiers, ”We have a small group here right now and we are all concentrating on training and making everyone happy. We will have everything we need from a security point of view. At the end of the day, we have four critical games, everyone’s fitness more or less doesn’t interest anyone and we will come and give everything we have. We have a much bigger task at hand than a football game, we will give everything, that’s for sure.”
While Israel would like to advance to the Euros, Weissman knows that there are a lot more imprint things in everyone’s minds right now, “There are so many worried and sad people, if we can make them smile a little bit it will be the happiest and saddest thing we could do. I just hope that we will have the privilege to advance to the tournament and give everyone something to smile about just a bit.”