Saturday, May 4, 2013

Yossi Benayoun

    Name: Yossi Benayoun
    Nationality: Israeli
    Date of Birth: 05/05/1980
    Height: 178 cm
    Weight: 70.0 kg
    Previous Clubs: West Ham, Arsenal, Liverpool, West Ham, Racing Santander
    Position: Midfielder

Born on 5 May 1980 in Israel, Benayoun, who turned 31 in May, spent three seasons at Liverpool before moving to Stamford Bridge, having first moved to the Premier League in 2005 when he joined West Ham.

Yossi initially took to life as a Chelsea player very well, scoring in his second appearance from the bench away at Wigan, before impressing in his first start, a 4-1 Champions League win in Zilina. However a calf injury against Newcastle in the Carling Cup saw him limp off as we lost 4-3 to a late goal.

Upon his recovery, Yossi reported for duty with the Israeli national side, but was forced to return to Chelsea after suffering a torn Achilles tendon. He missed six months of action but returned to play a bit-part role in the season's end.

Reporting fully fit for the new campaign under Andre Villas-Boas, he impressed during pre-season and looked to be back to his creative best, but was allowed to seek regular starting opportunities at Arsenal with a season-long loan on transfer deadline day in August 2011.

While at the Emirates, the Israeli struggled to break into the team initially, but by the end of the season he'd made 25 appearances and scored some vital goals, most notably in the 3-2 win at West Bromwich Albion on the final day of the season, a win which ensured Arsene Wenger's side would be playing in the 2012/13 Champions League.

He returned to Chelsea to take part in this summer's pre-season tour of the United States but on August 31 2012, he returned to his former club West Ham United on a loan until the January transfer window, with an option to then extend the loan for the rest of the season.

Due to a knee injury he appeared six times for the Hammers in the Barclays Premier League, his last outing coming on 11 November. He returned to Chelsea at the beginning of January 2013.

Benayoun made his first appearance for Chelsea since the opening day of the previous season when he came on as a late substitute for Juan Mata in the 2-2 draw at Reading.

The Israeli made his first start for the Blues during the current campaign in the 2-0 FA Cup win away at Middlesbrough in February.

As a schoolboy back in his native Israel, his talent was spotted early and played for the national youth team. He was invited to The Netherlands to join the famous Ajax Academy at the age of 15.

He continued to play for Israel Youth and scored two goals in a match against England with a teenage Michael Owen in opposition, but decided to return to his homeland to begin his senior career at the age of 17 with Hapoel Ber-Sheva.

He moved to Maccabi Haifa a year later where he was top scorer in his first season. Halfway during his four years at the club Benayoun teamed up for the first time with Avram Grant, the future Chelsea manager coaching the side to back-to-back league championships, the first of which was their first title in seven years. It earned Benayoun the Player of the Year award.

Grant would also manage Benayoun for the national team and during his time at Chelsea described him as Israel's best talent.

With the player having completed national service, Europe's big leagues came calling in 2002 and he left Maccabi Haifa having scored 55 goals in 130 appearances, moving to Spain to play for Racing Santander. He was a major reason why one of the smaller clubs in the Primera Liga avoided relegation.

He scored nine goals in 35 league games in his final season at Racing, and 21 goals in 101 matches in all, before the cash-strapped club sold him to West Ham for £2.5 million.

The Hammers were freshly promoted under Alan Pardew and enjoyed a good campaign, finishing ninth and reaching the FA Cup Final where they were unfortunate to concede a late equaliser and then lose on penalties to Benayoun's next club.

He played one more season at Upton Park, taking his club totals to eight goals in 63 league appearances, before a £5 million move to Anfield. He replaced Luis Garcia who moved back to Spain as part of the transfer deal that saw Fernando Torres join Liverpool.

Benayoun enjoyed a run of starts towards Christmas of his first season there but it took until the second half of the 2008/09 campaign with Liverpool challenging for the title before Rafael Benitez appeared to consider him a first choice. He rewarded his manager with seven goals in 14 league matches during the run-in as the Mersysiders finished second.

In a 2-0 defeat of Chelsea at Anfield in February 2009 he supplied the ball for Torres's second goal, and was the recipient of a high challenge from Jose Bosingwa by the corner flag for which the Chelsea defender apologised.

Benayoun's final Liverpool match was their 2-0 home defeat by Chelsea in May 2010. In total he played 92 times for the club and netted 18 times.

Standing 5ft 8in tall, accomplished in one-on-one situations and with a good eye for a pass, he can play wide or as a central attacking midfielder. He captains the Israeli national team.

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