There is no sign of Itzik Kornfein's football history when you enter his house in Moshav Ora near Jerusalem. Even the family name does not hang on the front of the house or on the gate, let alone a trophy cabinet or a private archive room. "We never put up a sign with the last name," he says in a special interview on the occasion of his 50th birthday today. "Even before people came here and demonstrated in front of my house, there was no sign with the last name."
And inside the house?
"I do not think there is anything here that has to do with my personal history. There are no signs of football. I have not collected anything."
No boxes in the attic?
"Maybe there's a little box in an old photo album from the beginning, but not beyond. Maybe I was wrong not to collect or save but I never felt the need. I'm also not one to externalize things too much. I always tried to disconnect football from home. I didn't feel the need. To showcase trophies or articles. "
And with the parents?
"Nothing either. If you come into my house, you'll see mostly my wife's design. She's in charge of the house."
Do not like to externalize.
Itzik Kornfein (Photo: Yachz)
Itzik Kornfein's 50th birthday will take place tomorrow (Friday), but today we bring the first part of the special interview with him.
Kornfein testifies that he is not a man of great celebrations.
"Like in the course of the year, so on birthdays. Family, some friends. That's it."
Still, if I were to give you a place in the world to celebrate your 50th birthday?
"I guess I would take the family to the United States for another trip. Wherever you drop us off in the United States, we enjoy. If it's New York, Miami, Las Vegas. We love everything there."
Have you been to Corona since the beginning of the United States?
"A few months ago I was on a short vacation with friends. My wife was with the girls about a month and a half ago. I guess we will travel together sometime."
You are 50 years old and the children have also grown up.
"My eldest daughter Daniel is already 23. He will start studying medical research in Tel Aviv next month. Roni, the second daughter, is 21 and after her release from the IDF, she is currently studying psychometrics.
My son Matan is a soldier in the Golani Regiment and the youngest son, 16, is a goalkeeper in Betar Jerusalem. His name is Amit and he plays for boys A.
Will he be like his father?
"I hope so, but the struggle is difficult. His growth is a little late in terms of height and size. Now he is starting to develop volume and height. He is very determined. If his father was determined, he is doubly determined."
"I was naive about coaches"
"I often chose to be the defender and coach and I paid a personal price that I do not think many paid such a personal price. I thought everything should drain me and all the criticism to me. My media conduct was very bad at that time."
If I take you to the middle of your life so far, to the age of 25 when you were just beginning Betar Jerusalem, how would you look at Itzik Kornfein who is celebrating his 50th birthday today?
"In terms of career potential, I did my best. I'm talking about football right now. In relation to my opening data as height, only 1.84 meters, and not the fastest, I think I spent the maximum. "I arrived at the right and appropriate age for Betar Jerusalem. I was part of the championships and experienced joy as well as sadness. I am super satisfied with my sports career."
"Later on, I would do things differently. I would be happy, for example, to arrive at a different time to be the CEO and chairman of Betar Jerusalem. I don't think there was anyone who had to deal with a situation of no owners, no income, no bills. "
But what would you do differently?
"To act all the time out of the compulsion of the moment is unhealthy. I should have tried to do things more broadly even then. Regarding Betar's vision and the relationship with the community. And I also have an ongoing attitude towards coaches and players. "
Give an example.
"In connection with coaches I was naive. I would give coaches everything and do what they want. I would not interfere from my perception as a player that coach is the important figure in the system. I think in retrospect I should have been more involved in policy. I had to be with a statement. I'm talking about choice. Of players, for example. I do not want to determine the lineups, but when it comes to policy making I had to be more involved and decisive. I often chose to be the player's defender and coach and I paid a personal price I do not think many paid such a personal price. My media conduct was very bad at that time. We were in a kind of ongoing crisis and the real-time media management was not right. We are ten years later and I could not have held Betar like that then. And the truth is, I did not get the right appreciation if you put the truth on the table. "
What could you have done differently? The team belonged to Arkady Gaydamak and he told you to get along.
"I think I got water out of the rock. No one can run Betar on the terms I was given.
This club requires an owner investment each season.
Holding it without an owner investment is almost impossible, but I made mistakes in the way I handled this ongoing crisis.
I was focused on doing and not on publicity. It was a mistake. "
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"I do not want to determine the compositions, but as for policy-making I should have been more involved and decisive."
Kornfein with Eli Cohen (Photo: Berni Ardov)
"I put family aside because family is always exciting, but in everything else in life it is impossible to get the same excitement we had in football"
You were out for a year and a half after leaving Betar Jerusalem and then you were appointed director of the sports department in the Jerusalem municipality. What have you not achieved in your life?
"First, it is important for me to say that I do not regret anything. Even if you offered me a hundred times to take Betar Jerusalem as CEO and chairman, I would take her. And yet after Betar which was very intense for both me and my family, I wanted a role that would be a little more relaxed. That would be a role that would not require me 24 hours a day. Today I am in town and doing is blessed and it is also not something that draws me 24 hours seven days a week. "It could be that if there's something I'm missing or there's something I'm sorry about, it's that I did not reach all my managerial potential as I did in football as a goalkeeper."
What did you want to do and did not succeed?
"Something unrelated to sports. Sports are blessed but I have not experienced in another world that is unfamiliar to me. Maybe I would have succeeded and maybe I would have failed, but I have not tried and here I have a sense of missing out or missing out. Maybe I would like to run something big in sports unrelated to sports. "I can. But not to be misunderstood, I really like what I do today in my position in the municipality that allows me to develop Jerusalem in terms of sports."
Eyal Berkowitz told me in an interview for his 48th birthday that after football he can no longer get really excited about anything.
"There are a lot of things I don't agree with Eyal, but I totally agree with him on that. It's hard to get really excited after what we did in football and Eyal did huge things. I put family aside because family is always exciting, but in everything else in life you can't get the same excitement We had football. "
"I do not regret for a moment what I went through"
Sometimes you think you might want to be anonymous?
"No. I do not regret for a moment what I went through and I would take my whole career again. To experience mostly the good and for a period of a year or two the least good, is something I would like to go through again. To this day I get positive sympathy everywhere I go. "It's true that it was a difficult two years, but it's negligible."
You have met a lot of people in football and also in recent years in the municipality. Who particularly impressed you?
"Ruby Rivlin who used to come to our house and garden on holidays. Ehud Olmert of course I knew him closely. Later Nir Barkat as mayor and today Moshe Leon who I work with. These are four very impressive people. Rivlin as president and Ehud as prime minister. These are people who impressed me and what was amazing that everyone does And they did amazing things in their lives, but in the end when we met it would always start with a conversation about a football game. "
You have another hat because you're also a media man. Member of the panel of the sports program on Radio Jerusalem on Fridays and also part of the team that analyzes and talks about the team games in the corporation on television. As a media person, who would you like to interview?
"We interview a lot of people on Radio Jerusalem every Friday. I have yet to interview Yankele Shachar and I was very happy to do an in-depth interview with him. An interview of an hour or more like you do with me now. Yankele is very fascinating to me. I really appreciate "I would like to hear from him deep things about his philosophy at Maccabi Haifa and sticking to the goal."
He was very empathetic to you when you were chairman of Betar Jerusalem.
"Very. We were in an excellent relationship. Quite a few times he came to Betar Jerusalem with players he bought at a high price to help Betar or players he lent us and paid part of the salary to help us. Yankele is a very significant figure."
What if I let you interview someone outside of sports?
Maybe even one who is no longer among the living?
"Teddy Kollek is a character that fascinates me. The mythical mayor of Jerusalem. He is definitely someone I would like to interview. Only in recent years when I live this city more deeply do I know what Jerusalem is. It is a really fascinating city and I was born in Jerusalem. Until I entered the municipality I did not know "How complex it is to work in it. Teddy Kollek started the development of Jerusalem and I was happy to exchange a few words with him. I did not get to know him."
Put money in a boom and forget about consciousness.
Gaydamak (Photo: Yotam Ronen, Yotam Ronen)
"Arkady was the lottery that fell on Betar Jerusalem and they took the winning money and scattered it.
Waste them without any future thought, just for a momentary pleasure "
If already Teddy Kollek, what historical event would you like to attend?
"I guess the declaration of independence. Give me a jump to 1948 for 24 hours, but get me back. Let me dance parent in circles and go back to 2021. I really like living the present life."
Give me a law you would like to legislate or any regulation you would pass.
"My son is a fighter in the army and I would like more benefits for fighters. Both during service and after. For example fighter studies. Some fighters give their lives for the state and after that get no preference. The state should invest more in its fighters. I would be happy if there was a free bachelor's degree. To the warriors. "
If you were a Betar Jerusalem player today, which of the team owners in the past would you like to head the team?
"Only Arkady. And by the way. "
Let's open up the Arkady issue. I think you like it.
"I love Arkady. Arkady was the lottery that fell on Betar Jerusalem and they took the winnings and scattered them. Waste them without any future thought, just for momentary pleasure. Won the lottery with NIS 400 million. Waste the money and throw the person away. "
The story hurts you.
" The miss is big. A man arrived who invested NIS 400 million in the first three years and did not use the money for ongoing things. It is true that the club won two championships and two trophies, but money went to the wrong place and I saw where the money went. "If at least 30 percent of the money was invested in building a house for Betar Jerusalem, the youth department, the infrastructure, the connection with the community, but nothing. NIS 400 million was invested and nothing is left except the degrees. Nothing is left of this legacy. R. Jerusalem and it's sad. "
When was the last time you saw each other?
" Two or three years ago. I really like Arkady. "
"Arkady did not receive the honor, in sports and in general"
"For Betar Jerusalem, Arkady Gaydamak is one big miss.
And what a pity they did not learn the lesson "
Why do you emphasize that you love Gaydamak?
"Because in the end he did well for Betar, even if some of the decisions such as the Chechens stemmed from his personal motives.
When you take his whole period in Betar he wanted to do good to Betar.
I'm also a little sad for him, about the way he entered the country with insane investments in health, security and where not?
In every corner of the country he put money in a boom and slowly evaporated and was forgotten from consciousness.
Arkady did not receive the honor.
Both in sports and in general. "
Do you have an example?
"On one of Israel's independence days, Arkady wanted to take his grandson to one of the Air Force bases to see planes. It was already quite a late period for Arkady in Betar. Not the glorious period of the beginning. Arkady asked me to help him because he probably feared he would have a problem getting into the base. And this is Independence Day and the bases are open to the public. I had a friend who was serving right at the Air Force base and I approached him. He checked the issue and got back to me. He said to me: 'Itzik, it is better that he does not come. He may not be admitted. ""
"This is a person who donated to the IDF. He donated in hospitals."
What did you tell Arkady?
"I dodged. I excused myself with some excuse that it didn't work out."
And he understood?
"Sure he understood what's going on behind the scenes. Arkady is not a sucker."
Maybe we're both a little naive right now about Arkady? Maybe we forget that there was a great interest behind his activities?
"Well, and if he really did things out of self-interest? What's interesting? The man put NIS 400 million in Betar Jerusalem.
Donated money in the city of tents in Nitzanim.
His money helped them.
For summer camps in 2006.
It makes sense that a person who gives money does so out of interest as well.
It's legitimate and I have no problem with it.
As far as Betar Jerusalem is concerned, Arkady Gaydamak is one big mistake. And it's unfortunate that they did not learn the lesson. Take Moshe Hogg. He said he invested NIS 120 million in three years. And there's some cosmetics and we do not study and here he is also kicked out. "
"La Familia won thanks to the fact that he managed to drive away the owners who wanted to invest money every time. The owners changed and La Familia stays and their hand is on the top. Factual is the truth" (Photo: Walla !, Danny Maron)
"Until it comes from their organization and until they understand that Betar is harmed by them, Betar will be in trouble. Betar Jerusalem is definitely in trouble."
Kicking out is her family. Maybe we should admit her family won?
"Unequivocally, La Familia won. After all, Eli Tabib received Betar Jerusalem after me through cooperation with La Familia. And following their victory then over me, their power intensified. After that, they fought Tabib. "
La Familia defeated who and why?
" La Familia won thanks to the fact that he managed to drive away the owners who wanted to invest money every time. The owners have changed and her family remains and their hand is on top. Factual is the truth. "
Just because La Familia the owners left?
" Obviously Arkady was with a foot and a half out and Tabib at the end might have left for another reason. But listen, when you invest money you expect the audience to be with you and the atmosphere in the stands to be sympathetic. An owner wants to feel that he is enjoying himself when he invests so much money. Dealing with wars all the time is not fun. It's hard for you to spend money in the end, too. "
So what will happen to Betar?
"I really do not know anymore. After all, whoever wants to buy, does not forget how they danced to Panigel on the car and how they came to Arkady home or came to Tabib for his wife's business and now with celebrating and cursing."
Maybe you should not fight them in advance?
"It is difficult. People who run systems like Betar Jerusalem should be responsible for communication with the community, education and values. Those who set policy can not give up all the principles so as not to fight La Familia. I may have made mistakes too, but here, Tabib who came after me canceled all the lawsuits I sued and my uncle Mizrahi that I personally sued, he became a man who works at Betar in telemarketing. On the one hand, I tell myself that I may have fought them too much, but on the other hand "People who tried another way also failed to go out with La Familia Rosh. Until it comes from their organization and until they understand that Betar is hurt by them, Betar will be in trouble. Betar Jerusalem is definitely in trouble."
Tomorrow in Part B: The Untold Stories about Goma Aguiar, Adler and Levin and Dror Kashtan.
And also who are the 11 great ones who played with him and what people do not know about him and will be surprised to find out.