got a back
Tal Ben Haim and John Terry (Photo: GettyImages, Lisa Blumenfeld)
Tal Ben Haim is one of the greatest footballers to have played here, with a career that began somewhere as a child in Rishon Lezion and reached 11 years in the Premier League and 96 appearances for the Israeli national team.
Ben Haim was not born with extraordinary talent.
What is special about him is the way, the professionalism, the investment, the ability to live the profession and be an athlete 24 hours a day.
In the book "In the Power of Will" Ben Haim shares the stories he went through along the way, the setbacks and dealing with the difficulty on the way to success.
When Mourinho signed with Chelsea, he signed three players from his native Portugal in the team: Ricardo Carvalho the stopper, Henrique Hilario the substitute goalkeeper for Peter Cech, and Paulo Ferrera the right back.
And what did Avraham do the moment he was appointed Chelsea coach?
He took out the Israeli who played under Mourinho, after Mourinho asked to sign him a year and a half before.
Some would say it's fear.
The fear that they will say that I play because I am Israeli.
It could have been a good excuse if I hadn't played for Mourinho.
One day, when Abraham took me out of the lineup, John Terry told me that he spoke to Abraham and told him that we are the best combination for Chelsea.
When I spoke with Abraham I told him this: "Even John told you that we are the best combination, so what exactly are you afraid of? You didn't bring me. I played for Mourinho."
And Abraham replied, "Don't believe everything you are told."
When I told this to John he got angry and told me, "Come to Abraham's room and confront him."
John and I go up the stairs towards Abraham's room.
John was determined to set the record straight.
We finish climbing the stairs and move forward in the corridor leading to Avraham's room.
My heart is pounding.
Just as John raises his hand and comes to knock on the door, I grab his hand and tell him that I don't want him to be uncomfortable because of me.
John looks me in the eye and replies, "I don't have a problem with that."
I loved him so much in those moments, and I didn't want to put him in such a situation.
In retrospect when I think about it, maybe I should have let go of John's hand and stood face to face with Abraham.
Maybe my situation in the team would have improved, maybe Avraham would have received the final approval that he can't play these games with me anymore.
These thoughts and reflections have accompanied me for many years.
To purchase the book "By the power of will" click here.
The cover of the book "By Power of Will" (Photo: Yehats)
From the moment Abraham took me out of the lineup against Valencia in the Champions League, I didn't play at all for two and a half months.
I probably knew very well why I did not trust Avraham.
I come home very nervous after training.
My whole life suddenly changes.
There is a lot of significance to mental strength and the mental state a player is in, and this time I quickly lose patience, just because I want to prove my ability and they don't let me play.
I'm more tired, I don't eat well, which hasn't happened to me since I was 14, since I understood the meaning of nutrition and its effect on the body in general and athletes in particular.
I am under enormous mental stress, it affects me and I arrive at training the morning before the game with a fever of 40 degrees.
We go to the hotel for the second leg against Valencia in the Champions League, this time at our home ground in London.
Precisely now, when I have a chance to play, I'm done.
I'm all shivering because of the heat, but I haven't played in two and a half months and I'm dying to play.
I tell Abraham that I feel good and I go up to play.
One brakeman was injured and the other brakeman with yellows.
Even though I felt bad, I played really well.
We could have beaten them 0:5.
An excellent game by us, we simply swept the field and created countless scoring opportunities, only bad luck near the goal prevented us from coming out with a crushing victory, and the game ended 0:0.
Avraham came up to me after the game and with characteristic sarcasm said to me, "Well, you should be sick every game, you played great."
After this game I expected to stay in the team.
After all, I proved myself again.
I didn't get a goal.
But what message does the coach convey to the players who get a chance?
It doesn't matter if you're good or not, you're not going to play the next game anyway?
Conflict behind the scenes.
Grant with John Terry (Photo: GettyImages, Shaun Botterill)
After this game I don't play again for a few weeks.
Then I approach Abraham and say to him, "Listen, Abraham, there is now a transfer deadline, January. Tottenham want me and are offering me even more money than I have here. I don't play, and it doesn't work between us. Let me go, let me move to Tottenham."
Then he told me a sentence that I will never forget: "Tal, you can play right back, left back. You are an asset to the club and I'm not letting you go. You're not going anywhere."
"What's an asset? You don't dress me up. I prove myself and you take me out every time. I'm not in the squad at all."
He ends the call and says, "I'm not letting you go."
Tottenham call and say that in case I am not released there is a defender they want to buy from Middlesbrough, Jonathan Woodgate, a former Real Madrid defender.
"If it's not you, we sign it," they tell me.
I call Abraham three days before the end of the transfer period and ask him, "Abraham, let me go."
But he matured, "You're not going anywhere, you're an asset and you'll still play."
Golden Finn calls Tottenham and tells them, "Sorry, Chelsea aren't letting him go."
It was announced in the media that Jonathan Woodgate signed for Tottenham.
After it was announced that he had signed there and after he was shown wearing the Tottenham shirt on Sky Sports News, Avraham says to me, "Tal, if you want you can leave. You won't play anyway and you'll be a fifth striker."
A few days before the end of the transfer deadline, Chelsea signed defender Branislav Ivanovich from Lokomotiv Moscow for 13 million euros, but despite this he has not participated in any game this season.
There are things I cannot and do not know how to explain.
Okay, you are the coach and the authority to determine who plays and who doesn't is indisputable.
But where does this evil come from?
You do not want me?
No problem, acceptable.
All over the world these things happen.
It's not the first time and it won't be the last time a coach doesn't want a player, but I have an offer from another top team, so let me go.
Why thwart my transition?
What is the reason?
What does it give you in life?
I'm a big believer in karma, and Abraham's tenure at Chelsea seems to have ended the way it did for a reason.
After the confrontations with Avraham, I realize that I am not going to have a shekel, and I am interviewed for an article in the Sun newspaper, which is one of the largest and best-selling newspapers in England.
On the front page was the main headline: "Chelsea star Tal Ben Haim: If I had known that Abraham would be the head coach of Chelsea, I would have signed with another team."
At eight thirty in the morning the phone rings.
On the line the team captain, John Terry: "Good morning, what's going on?"
"Good morning, everything is fine, how are you?"
"Say, did you see the paper today?"
"You don't believe it, the whole headline on the front page is about you. Avraham has already called Afsnai and asked him to deliver your equipment to the youth academy. You dress with the youth. But don't worry, I won't let that happen! If you dress as the youth, I'll come too and I'll bring the whole team to dress up with you. He does no such thing."
Couldn't get free.
Ben Haim (Photo: GettyImages, Phil Cole)
Upon arriving at the training ground, I see that John Terry has already moved my clothes back to the first team dressing room.
We get dressed and get ready for training.
We go to practice and suddenly the fitness coach comes to me and asks me to run around the field, under Avraham's instruction.
I'm not arguing.
To remind you, I just want to play football, my goal is not to prove it.
I start running around and the team on the field is doing warm-up exercises with the fitness trainer.
As I start to run, Terry sees me out of the corner of his eye and tells the other players, "Stop, stop."
He stops the practice, gathers all the players in the middle circle of the field, calls Abraham and the professional team and calls a meeting in the middle of the field.
John turns to Abraham and says, "Abraham, you're the coach, you decide who plays. If you don't want to let Tal play, no problem, but you don't do that and let him run around. You don't separate him from us. He's part of the team and he A friend of ours. He trains with us."
Avraham stood his ground and, as always, knew how to get out of any situation.
After a few seconds of silence he asks the players, "Everyone thinks like that?"
All the players reply in the affirmative and he sends me back to practice.
After the training it turned out that he fined me 80 thousand pounds.
Terry went with me to the cashier and told him he checked with the journalist, and he said I didn't say the things.
"I request that you cancel his fine," he asked, and it was successful, the fine was canceled.
How many times in your life have you encountered such a captain, such a leader, who is not afraid to go against the coach and support a player from his team?
I will never forget John's support during the most difficult moments of my career.
To purchase the book "By the power of will" click here.
Tal Ben Haim