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"I foolishly believed the heads of Maccabi Haifa that they wanted me" - Walla! sport


Ahead of the game between Hapoel Jerusalem and Maccabi Haifa (18:00, Sport4), former defender Zion Merili recalled how he was forced to retire instead of signing for Maccabi Tel Aviv and how Maccabi Haifa betrayed him.

Zion Merili is one of the most prominent left-backs in Israeli football in the 1970s and 1980s, but is best remembered as one of the leaders of Hapoel Jerusalem and Maccabi Haifa, the only two teams in which he played throughout his career.

Tomorrow they will meet at Teddy Stadium

(18:00, live on Sport4)

, and before the game Merilly remembers how it all started as a child in Jerusalem, his brother Yitzhak whom he replaced in the senior team, the double signing at Hapoel Tel Aviv and Maccabi Haifa and the Greens' betrayal that led to retirement from football At Maccabi Tel Aviv - until the closing of the circle when he returned to Carmel.

He replaced his brother in the Hapoel Jerusalem team and in the national team.

Zion Merrillie (Photo: Courtesy of the family)

"I started in the youth team of Hapoel Jerusalem following my brother Yitzhak, who was the left defender in Hapoel Jerusalem and the Israel national team and was one of the best players in the sixties and seventies, during the time Menachem Blue from Maccabi Tel Aviv played in the same position in the Israeli team," says Zion. "The other work in my progress to the top of football was done by the coach Mordechai Cohen in the youth, who was my mentor and thanks to him I brought out the talent in me, the heart and the soul for success."

Zion, born in 1957, managed to establish his status and enter 11 at the age of 19. "I received the first team shirt from coach Amatzia Levkovich in the first round of the 1976/77 season, in Katamon against the champion Hapoel Beer Sheva. Levkovich gave me a task to eliminate Professional striker Shalom Avitan. I suffocated with excitement, I was shaking all over. I was given mint candy in the locker room to calm down. Avitan did not understand where I came from. He shouted to his bench 'Who brought this boy?'. He did not touch the ball and we led 0: 2 "From goals by Eli Levy and Zion Turgeman. Only in the last corner of the game did Avitan hit the goal of honor that set 2: 1".

Marili with Avraham Ben David in Hapoel Jerusalem uniform (Photo: Creative Commons)

Your success is also the one that led to the retirement of your revered brother, Isaac?

"My brother spun his knee in one of the games, and then medicine was not like today. His recovery period was long and after he saw me make his debut at the position, he told me and the team leaders that he retires and entrusts the left defender position in my hands for long changes."

Betar Jerusalem did not wait long until she submitted an offer to you

"Moshe Dadash offered me to come to Betar and explained to me that they would win the championship with me. I asked to leave and explained that I wanted to be part of championship fights and not fight for relegation, To the team from the Hapoel Center. "

There was also an offer from Maccabi Haifa at the time

"With the help of the patron of Hapoel Jerusalem and a key figure in the Labor Party, Uzi Baram, it was agreed that I would move to Hapoel Tel Aviv. At the same time I had an offer from Maccabi Haifa, whose leaders pressured me to join them. "My husband Hapoel Tel Aviv today, AG), and I closed on a long-term contract with Hapoel Tel Aviv, which was a big club at the time."

And yet you also signed with Maccabi Haifa

"After I closed with Hapoel Tel Aviv, I went around with my brother Yitzhak in Tel Aviv. We decided to watch the semi-finals of the State Cup in Ramat Gan that evening. Hapoel Tel Aviv defeated Hapoel Lod 0: 3 Aviv, which ended in 4: 4 and Tel Aviv won on penalties in a game that anyone who watched it will not forget for the rest of their lives.

"My lawyer was Hanoch Keinan. We met with the heads of Maccabi Haifa, Zvika Weizner, Freddie Shavit, Zion Bitton and Attorney General Danny Sheeran. "They claimed I was crazy and insane, but that's how the first championship grant ever was born at Maccabi Haifa."

The story of the first championship grant in Israel.

Merili in a Maccabi Haifa uniform (Photo: Maccabi Haifa)

But you signed with two teams at the same time

"it was done at discretion. The disciplinary committee of the association prosecuted me and kept me away from seven games, but at Maccabi Haifa I played for the next seven years."

Merili was a partner in the first championship in the history of Maccabi Haifa and won two more with it, until Shlomo Sharaf chose to release him in 1990. Today, Zion serves as an honorary ambassador and representative of Maccabi Haifa in the development of football in schools in the north.

You cooked up the historic goal for Selector

"Wow, what a great season this was. We reached the last round in Kiryat Eliezer against Maccabi Ramat Amidar and we knew we had a victory and the championship. Baruch Maman was unable to cook from the corner balls and in the end I asked him to pick up the next corner ball, and at the same time I asked Selector to position himself in the box. The ball was historic, Selector rose like a lighthouse and hit the net.Such a stormy championship celebration is not remembered in Haifa to this day. "

Lost the bet and paid.

Former actor Zahi Armeli (Photo: Maor Elkelsi)

There was also an intervention with Zahi Armeli in a camp in the Netherlands.

"He was my roommate and I bet with him on $ 2,000 that Maccabi Haifa would win the championship. He was a man-to-man and paid me. He settled for 13 goals that season."

In the Netherlands there was also an incident in the Disciplinary Committee?

"We were in the town of Shank and the brakeman Yaron Purslani asked me to join him for quick shopping. We had to take a van to bring the things he bought to the room and we arrived just as the players were training. Everyone was torn apart with laughter. That will not happen again. "

What do you remember from my late father Ran?

"I come from a religious home and at the beginning of the journey in Jerusalem, I was after Shabbat prayer walking 7 km on foot to the field.

When I arrived at Maccabi Haifa, my father Ran and his father Moshe took me to their house on Friday for my first kiddush.

I saw my father as a big star who would break out and be one of the greatest.

At the time, Shlomo Sharaf wanted to release my father and bring in goalkeeper Arie Habib, but I was among those who prevented him from doing so.

What happened that morning on the Sea of ​​Galilee is a crazy disaster, the club leaders asked me as the team captain to give the loss because they are incapable.

I sat with my wife Jordana all night until we wrote the obituary I said in Kiryat Eliezer in front of thousands of fans.

It was a chilling silence, the most difficult moment of my life. "

Responsible for a championship celebration in Haifa that is not remembered to this day (Photo: courtesy of the family)

Thanks to football, have you been able to create financial security for yourself and your family?

"These are not the numbers of football today. We live well, but there is no economic security for the future."

When your contract with Maccabi Haifa ended, you had an unprecedented offer from Maccabi Tel Aviv, so how did it end in a betrayal of Haifa?

"We won the championship, my contract ended and Danny Laufer, chairman of Maccabi Tel Aviv, came to my house.

He told me that only I was missing him to win the championship.

He took a white sheet from the printer, signed it down and asked me to write down the amount I was asking for.

I wrote an amount four times higher than I had at Maccabi Haifa, he smiled and said he agreed and that I would come to Kiryat Shalom if I had the courage.

I asked for a few days to think about it, but he called every day to put pressure on me and I asked for more time because I believed that Maccabi Haifa wanted me and would sign me to an improved contract.

After the betrayal, the circle closes.

Zion Merili (Photo: Official Website, Maccabi Haifa)

And didn't a new offer come from Maccabi Haifa?

"At Maccabi Haifa, they chatted, attracted me knowing that apparently they did not want me. Laufer informed me that he had to withdraw the offer under time pressure and I think they signed a defender named Nino Assur from Hapoel Tiberias. It is my saddest and most painful day in football, it is a crushing act. I could go on. "Three years at Maccabi Tel Aviv and it did not happen because of my great stupidity. It was not wise to think that I would continue at Maccabi Haifa and I decided to retire close to the age of 34. It was painful and there was a disconnect of several years."

A disconnect that eventually ended and the circle closed

"Love always wins. The disconnect ended thanks to the arrival of Yaakov Shachar to the club, it caused a new era in Maccabi Haifa."

Source: walla

All sports articles on 2021-10-15

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