"I entered and was immediately removed. Rabin was in the stands, he didn't understand what was happening"
He tasted the last championship of Maccabi Netanya, feels the miss with Shalom Tikva ("There was a blind understanding between us, but we hardly played together") and still hurts the decline of 1995 ("Disgusting season").
Ronan Gabbay recalls and explains his part in the film about the late prime minister
Thursday, August 18, 2022, 4:38 p.m
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"Shalom Tikva the great. He is exactly a year younger than me. We played together in boys and youth, we had a perfect understanding, a blind understanding. I knew where he was running, at what pace and where to give him the ball. I played very little with Shalom in Netanya's seniors, almost nothing. He He left for a career in Belgium and I still feel a miss that sits in my mind and memory, for the fact that we didn't play almost together. It's a shame and I'm really sad that we didn't bring a championship."
Gabai and Shalom Tikva (Photo: Maariv, Adi Avishi)
Ronan Gabai was born on May 16, 1964, he is married plus 4, works in the youth academies project in the football association and gives personal training to young people at a school together with Yaniv Lavi.
"I lived on Sderot Binyamin in Netanya. A guy named Yigal Lichinsky came to the Bialik school where I learned to do tests for those born in 1962. After a single training session they asked me to stay, took me home to my parents and asked for two photos and permission to register for Maccabi Netanya. Then they found out that I was two years younger than the players being tested , including Rico Shirazi, Haim Mesika and others. That's how I started my way at the club. I liked Maccabi Netanya, I would go on foot to watch from behind the fence in training, arrive on Saturdays four hours before to see the games, to dream and believe that one day I too will be on the grass next to the brothers Mekans, Bar, Levi and the other names I adored."
Then Spiegler makes your dream come true.
"Motala was the man I admired the most as a player, I imagined his every action on the field. He was appointed coach of Maccabi Netanya and came to the training of the youth team. At the end, he approached coach Asher Messing, pointed at me and said to him, 'I want this tomorrow for the senior training'. I arrived at training, barely 18 years old, skinny and weighs only 55 kg.
Motel'a told me 'don't be afraid, go train and play with the stars'.
There were names on the field that caused shivers - Pizanti, Momo Shirazi, Oded and Gad Mekens, David Lavi, Haim Bar, Fudi, Lem, Geriani and others.
Being with them in the dressing room together, hearing them talk and prepare for training was really 'God forbid'.
I grew up on each of them."
He shared a little in that dream season. "My first game in the seniors was against Hapoel Kfar Saba, which we beat 2:4.
We easily won the championship title, also the champion of the champions and the league cup.
In the quarter-finals of the State Cup there was a disappointment in the elimination 2:0 by Hapoel Lod.
Suddenly he was playing in the big league.
Gabai in front of Vicky Peretz from Maccabi Tel Aviv in the 1983/4 season (Photo: Maariv, Adi Avishi)
A year later he left to gain experience.
"They asked me to rub shoulders with Maccabi Herzliya. I moved there, after several seasons Maccabi Netanya decided to part ways with Mot'la Spiegler, everything was suddenly forgotten. Spiegler later moved on to coach Maccabi Jaffa and he took me there with him. Mot'la managed to keep them in the national league, this It was a huge operation."
You return to Maccabi Netanya and have an interesting meeting with Yitzhak Tshuva, at the end of which you have an apartment.
"It was my first contract at Maccabi Netanya. I thought about my future, and when I entered Yitzhak Tshuva's office, I was afraid that he would kick me out after hearing my request. I asked him for a contract in which I would receive an apartment at the end of three years. Tshuva hugged me, smiled and approved my request , Maccabi Netanya paid the cost of the house, a house that became mine."
After an involuntary dry spell, he almost experienced the taste of the championship.
"1987/8 was a season of almost, we finished in second place in the table after the champion Hapoel Tel Aviv. The attack scored a large amount of goals, 56, of which 14 by Shalom Tikva. In the semi-finals of the cup we lost after 1:1 in extra time and penalties to Hapoel Tel Aviv."
He had good offers, but he turned them down.
"Maccabi Netanya was everything to me then, a team in heart and blood. I had good financial offers from Beitar Jerusalem and Hapoel Tel Aviv.
I was very naive at the time, that's part of the mistakes I made, at the height of my ability and in the position of captain, I didn't want to leave the club where I grew up."
The relegation season 1994/95 still hurts you.
"It was a disgusting, crushing season, a global nightmare. Everything turned upside down for us, they changed coaches and we made all the possible mistakes. In the deciding game against Maccabi Herzliya, they had two players sent off with red cards. We didn't know how to take advantage of the situation, and later on we also had two players sent off, in the end we lost 1 :0, they were saved. I can testify that after this descent I did not leave the house outside for many weeks because of pain, shame and disappointment."
Then a meeting with Moshe Sinai.
"Sini and his assistant in Hapoel Tel Aviv Yaakov Cohen Tzedek met with me. They went to a training camp for the game in Europe against Chisinau. I got permission from Maccabi Netanya to go with them, the leaders of Netanya promised me a free release, in recognition of my long service in the club. At the end of one of the training sessions, the managers of Hapoel Tel Aviv approached me with a bottle of wine, raised a glass to congratulate me, and told me that they bought me from Maccabi Netanya for a large sum of money. I didn't understand why they paid, I told them that I was promised a free release without money. It was a big mistake on their part,"
but later it deteriorated.
"Sinai had a good team, with the Polish foreigners Baku and Lukaszczyk, there were Yossi Mader, Guy Sharabi, Yaakov Schwartz and Niso Avitan. We were eliminated by Chisinau, in Hapoel Tel Aviv they asked me to 'drop the high financial contract, we paid a lot of money for you to Maccabi Netanya'. When I refused Due to their demand, tension started between the club and me, I didn't play enough."
prefers his life to be calm.
The collector of the day (photo: courtesy of the photographer)
You had a story in Bloomfield in front of the eyes of the late Yitzhak Rabin
I come in as a substitute and within seconds a red card is pulled at me, it might have been the fastest red card in history.
He had a hard time understanding."
He left Hapoel Tel Aviv, where he hardly played ("On the last transfer day I was able to move for half a season to coach Asher Messing's Hapoel Hadera") and then returned for another season at Maccabi Netanya and retired. "After Hapoel Hadera I returned home, to try to give back the club to the national league.
I didn't succeed, and at the age of 34 my head got tired of football.
My body wanted to keep playing, but I finished because of my head."
You advise your friends and others not to coach senior teams. Why?
"I chose to coach youth teams. The coach's status is at the very bottom. It's a cruel profession where after two losses you're already a candidate for dismissal, they're already looking for a replacement. It's a feeling that most coaches go through, many break and disappear. I want to live my life without pressure" .
His group of exiles.
Gabai against Maccabi Haifa.
Right: Nir Klinger (Photo: Maariv, Adi Avishi)
And he also has a message for Maccabi Netanya fans.
"This huge crowd of fans is now thirsty to get a title, a championship or a cup, to return to the glory days. Since "Netanya and another 15" there has been nothing, it is a long and unimaginable time for the city of Netanya and the surrounding area. You see that under Bnei Lem there is a new way. We saw Alfie The fans connect with the current team despite the painful relegation from Europe. Winning the title this season will reconnect tens of thousands of fans like in the days of Spiegler, Oded Miknes and David Lavi. Maccabi Netanya needs and can return there, it will be difficult, but I believe it is possible and will happen within a year or two."
And finally, which team did you like playing against the most?
"Maccabi Haifa. This was my 'exile group'."