Israeli national team players celebrate qualifying for the quarterfinals of the World Cup (Photo: Israel Football Association Instagram page)
The pressure level at the team house in Shfayim has escalated. The World Cup is a few months away and a number of key players are not playing, not even dressing. At one of the staff meetings conducted by Bonnie Ginzburg, Dor Turgeman came up on the table. He swayed between the stands and the bench at Maccabi Tel Aviv and didn't get a minute anyway. Ofir Haim was worried. One of the players he is building on for the Under-20 World Cup is not fit to play. Didn't see a minute from Vladen Ivić and Aitor Karanka doesn't act differently either. Ginzburg and Haim's phones flowed to everyone who could. Idan Ben Abu, Turgeman's agent from the age of 15, received more than one call. From him, too, the team asked to help, to press, to see how it was possible to act against Maccabi Tel Aviv so that Turgeman would start seeing grass and not arrive in Argentina without a minute.
Turgeman was not Ofir Haim's favorite a year ago at the junior Euros in Slovakia. Out of five matches played at the U-19 tournament, he started only two. It was Oscar Gloch's team, but Idan Tocalomati and Ahmed Salman also counted more than him. He has just finished a season on loan from Maccabi Tel Aviv to Beitar Tel Aviv Bat Yam. While Gluch was playing in the youth team and was promoted to Mladen Krstajc's seniors, Turgeman tried to stand out in a national team that was very weak and was relegated at the end of the season.
"If there's one thing I'm most sorry about, it's that Dor and Oscar didn't play together at Maccabi Tel Aviv," says agent Ben Abu. "I think that if they had played together and been promoted to the seniors two years ago, Maccabi Tel Aviv would have benefited from it. I will never forget a training match Maccabi Tel Aviv had two years ago against Hapoel Kfar Saba. They both played, because there was a lack of players and they were the best on the field. Maccabi Tel Aviv wanted to cook them slowly, but I think it was a bit of a miss in the end because you could have enjoyed both of them together much sooner and maybe even history would have changed and the last championships would have landed in Kiryat Shalom."
Became a significant factor under Ofir Haim. Turgeman (Photo by Getty Images, Eurasia Sport Images)
Dor Turgeman was born in Ashdod and lives there to this day. Just before the age of 15, he entered a minor quarantine form in order to transfer to Maccabi Tel Aviv. MS Ashdod knew they had a diamond in their hands, but the department's rules were stronger and no one accepted the demands of the young player who was determined to move to Maccabi Tel Aviv. Turgeman didn't need much time without football. Already after two months of lockdown he was at Maccabi Tel Aviv. Ben Abu, who had already represented him at the time, sat down for negotiations with Patrick van Leeuwen. He bombed and Maccabi Tel Aviv agreed.
The young talent was provided with a taxi to take him back from home in Ashdod to Kiryat Shalom and back. Maccabi Tel Aviv allocated NIS 11,15 a month to a driver who would wait for him in Kiryat Shalom and bring him home, all when he was only <> years old. Moreover, Mitch Goldhar's club agreed to the condition, knowing that Turgeman could leave unconditionally at the end of the season. This was the agreement of both sides. The transfer is made from Ashdod, but it will be valid for six months, at the end of which each party will have the right to announce separation, if they do not get along. But Turgeman did not want to part ways, and Maccabi Tel Aviv did not want to withdraw from the agreement. He signed a contract in the youth department and the taxi stayed. There are few players who get such conditions until they get a driver's license.
Turgeman stood out, but still many things went hard for him. The transition was successful, but he did not receive status in the department of 'he and ten more'. Last season, too, when he was convinced that he would jump to the senior level, he was loaned to Beitar Tel Aviv Bat Yam. By last summer, he was back. The one who insisted on this was Barak Yitzhaki, who in no way wanted to lose him for another loan season. If it had been up to Yitzhaki, Turgeman would have gotten more minutes this past season.
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Got the chance and impressed in the cup. In a Maccabi Tel Aviv uniform (Photo: Ariel Shalom)
He talked a lot with Ivić and Karanka, but Turgeman only gained real recognition in the second part of the season after scoring a goal and looking good in the cup games against Maccabi Petah Tikva. In the quarterfinals, in both games, he showed great ability, but also in training he was great. Ivich said recently, after he had already moved to Krasnodar, that he would have shared much more with him had he not had Eran Zehavi and George Jovanovitch in the cadre. "Next to two such senior strikers it's hard to get minutes," the Serbian said. "But Dor is a great striker and I have no doubt that he will develop exceptionally."
Ivić was also not surprised by the offer coming from Benfica Lisbon. The Portuguese follow players of this age and try to fish. Turgeman only has a contract until the end of next season, so Lisbon smelled that they had a chance for another deal that could yield a lot of money in the future. Turgeman was offered to join the reserve team next season and later jump to the first team, if he proved that his place is among the really greats. Ben Abu was flown to Lisbon, saw that the Portuguese were very serious, but still the cards were in Maccabi Tel Aviv's hands. Goldhar, who had already lost Gluch in a sale he hoped to make only in the future, announced that he was not giving up on Turgeman. There's no way another prominent player would leave at 19. He instructed Jack Angelidis to do everything possible to leave a sign of great potential. Negotiations for a new contract began even before the World Cup. Maccabi Tel Aviv was anxious to close even before Turgeman flew to Argentina, now they know why.
Will the tournament and great ability result in a prestigious move to Benfica? Turgeman in the national team uniform (Photo: Getty Images, Eurasia Sport Images)
The striker of the under-20 national team is the hottest name in the scout books that came to Buenos Aires and from there dispersed to the various fields. Turgeman wants to stay and does not seem tempted, although Benfica continue to press. As it stands, he will return and try to take a place in the lineup, even though it will be a difficult task at Maccabi Tel Aviv. Bunker, as he is currently with Ofir Haim, will find it difficult to be as long as Zahavi and Jovanovic are in the team, but Maccabi Tel Aviv are not ruling out a sale of the Serbian at all and things may yet change.
Turgeman, like the rest of his teammates, doesn't want to stop his dream. Brazil tomorrow (Saturday, 20.30pm) is not an insurmountable hurdle either, and he will try to do the unbelievable. In almost every goal scored by the national team he was involved and tomorrow he will want to be dominant.
When he returns to Israel, Maccabi Tel Aviv is waiting for him with the contract he will be asked to sign, and after a short vacation he will have to fly to the European Under-21 Championship, where Guy Luzon designates a central role for him and maybe even a place in the starting line-up. "Being Dor Turgeman's agent today is the easiest thing in the world. You just need the phone to be available, the calls are already flowing," Ben Abu said yesterday. Now he just needs his guy to keep in the headlines and take advantage of the tremendous momentum he's in.
- Israeli football
- Israeli national teams
- Maccabi Tel Aviv Football
- FIFA U-20 World Championship
- Youth team