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A Cinderella Story from Shibli Village: Hamza Shibli's Road to the Mondialito - Walla! sport


Highlights: Hamza Shibli was born and raised in the Bedouin village of Shibli at the foot of Mount Tabor. He went down to Neve Yosef, returned to Maccabi Haifa, scored for Juventus and received a debut call-up to the Israeli national team. "Hamza's path was not simple," recalls his father Yusuf Shibli. "The transition was very high, but Hamza is a guy with a lot of ambitions," says Yusuf.

From the foot of Mount Tabor to a goal against Brazil in the quarterfinals of the World Cup. The story of Hamza Shibli, who went down to Neve Yosef, returned to Maccabi Haifa, scored for Juventus and received a debut call-up to the national team

Ticked: Sports Events Summary Clip, 4.6 (Sports1)

This will probably be the event Hamza Shively will remember for the rest of his career. Perhaps also the one who led him all the way to the Israeli national team. Until the goal against Brazil the other day in the quarterfinals of the World Cup. "Hamza's path was not simple," recalls his father Yusuf Shibli. "The loan to Neve Yosef Haifa in the National Youth League was a complex stop. It's not easy when Maccabi Haifa wasn't sure about him and we had to look for a team in the National League, and this league was really unsympathetic."


"Neve Yosef fought against relegation against Pardes Hanna and there was a game between the two teams in Pardes Hanna. Hamza stood out very much in Neve Yosef and everyone knew that he was the main player that needed to be stopped. The game starts and I see a man standing on the fence in the distance, shaking it and cursing my son. I can see that it disturbs Hamza. He sees that it's not easy for him. Listen, I also played soccer in lower leagues and I know what a crowd in lower leagues is, but at 17 years old such curses? So I went up to the man who was cursing and said: 'Do you know I'm Hamza's father? Why are you cursing my son?' This man didn't count me out and neither did the other parents. It was a difficult moment. After that game, Hamza and I said that if he continues to play football, it will be at Maccabi Haifa. In a league where he won't have to go through what he went through that day."

Not an easy road. Hamza Shibli with his father Yusuf (Photo: courtesy of those photographed)

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Hamza Shibli was born and raised in the Bedouin village of Shibli at the foot of Mount Tabor. A village that in the past was known for quite a few crime incidents in which people were involved. "Hamza was the eldest and I also have a son named Judd who is two years younger. Hamza will soon be 19 years old. Judd is 17 and they are both at Maccabi Haifa," Yusuf says. He is 43 years old and spent much of his life working as a machine operator in a factory producing plastic cups. At some point he decided to leave and pursue a career as a gardener.

"Shibli has no way to develop. There isn't even a proper plot here. In the past, we took over Hapoel Nahliel because there is no football team and youth department here in the village. It wasn't easy in Nahliel either, and after one season the team disbanded. I played almost every role except goalkeeper. Tell you that Hamza and Judd took my genes? Maybe, but I'm telling you that without my and my wife's investment in transportation, they wouldn't have been able to get to Maccabi Haifa."

Hamza stood out on the football pitch in Shibli. The only field in the village where you can play ball. Yusuf decided to take him to Maccabi Haifa's branch in Nahalal. There he played for several years until he caught the eye of Maccabi Haifa scouts. They asked him to move to Maccabi Haifa's central branch in foam. "The transition wasn't easy because of course the level was very high, but Hamza is a guy with a lot of ambitions. We made the journey to training and it is very long until two years ago they came and told us that we should look for a team on loan because at Maccabi Haifa he will not get minutes in the first season of youth and it will be very difficult for him."

Those who took him in two years ago were Avi Nemani and Roy Simoni. I've been in the business for years. Simoni the partner, a resident of Tiberias, knows every piece of grass in the plots in the north. Shibli didn't seem like a potential diamond to polish at the time, but Nemani and Simoni decided to bet on it and go with it. "The season in Neve Yosef two years ago could not have predicted what would happen in the season we went through in the Premier Youth League. There is a big gap between the leagues," Simoni describes. "But when the season ended and Hamza had 10 goals and 18 assists as a left-back in Neve Yosef, it was clear to Avi and I that he had to return to Maccabi Haifa from the front door. That he has a place in the team he started coaching Masai. I had a conversation with Masai about Hamza and I told him he had to give him a real chance. When the team went on a tour of the United States, Masai called me and said, 'Roy, there's something about him.'"

Shibli's father says: "There is no way to develop in the village. There's not even a proper pitch here" (Photo by Getty Images, ANDRES LARROVERE/AFP)

Avi Nemani has already gone through a lot of players. His motto is to always stay with your feet on the ground and not jump into dreams, otherwise you will crash. "I think Hamza is making step-by-step progress at the right pace and there's excellent human material here," Nemani says. "Dad Yusuf also knows what football is and how precise and patient you have to be, and the fact is that it succeeded because the return to Maccabi Haifa last season was an excellent return."

Shibli was placed on the left wing and with his natural right foot made a lot of cuts that ended in goals. Juventus in the Champions League also got from him and his assist for the goal against Benfica was something they never stopped talking about in the department. It was clear that Ofir Haim and Bonnie Ginzburg's team could not ignore and that Shibli had received a call-up to the under-20 team. For the first time, he arrived at the Israeli national team, just at the perfect timing. "He finished the season with 11 goals in the extreme role," Simoni said. "That's a great amount for a player who has to live more on cooking."

Ofir Haim's youth team. The one that reached the final of the European Euros a year ago, Shibli saw only on the television screen. If you're looking for a meteoric jump it's him. A shining example of how a player should progress. "Hamza worked very hard to get to where he is now and I'm very proud of him for that," Nemani says. "I know a lot of players who haven't been able to do that. Players who have been lost in the past. But he has a lot of composure, quietness and daring and a lot of work ethic."

He didn't start for the national team at the World Cup, but every time he came in he made a change for the better. The other day against Brazil he came on as a substitute and scored the second goal, the one between Anan Halaili's goal and Dor Turgeman's victory goal. Later, Ofir Haim replaced him as a tactical substitution, and Shibli did not like it, but was quickly calmed down by friends. "What happened here near my house on Saturday night was like a holiday," Yusuf Shibli describes. "Hamza is already known in the village and you can't be Shibli without them knowing you're from Shibli village. Our village has progressed over the years, but is still left very far behind when it comes to the football field. There is no football here. There is no sport here. I once told friends that if one day I was elected head of the council, I would take care of sports in Shibli. I will make sure that there is a proper field here for our children. In the meantime, we have to look for where to play and where to send the children. I'm going through the same process with Judd, my youngest son, now and I'm sure that what Hamza did this week is the greatest satisfaction we can have in our family."

Great pride for the family. Shibli against Brazil (Photo by Getty Images, Eurasia Sport Images)

Shibli will finish the tournament and return to Israel. He signed a three-year contract last December and Maccabi Haifa will have to decide what they want to do with him. "I don't think that these players, who have now proven themselves in such a prestigious tournament, can return to youth teams or National League teams," Simoni said. Nemani knows what needs to be done: "We will sit with Hamza and Yusuf. We will of course hear Maccabi Haifa and see what is best for him because he is 19 years old in the summer." Nemani agrees with Shibli's resemblance to a player who played with him at Maccabi Tel Aviv. "Did you say Baruch Dego? There's something to that. Even if he doesn't play with his left foot, they play on the same wing and there are similarities in body structure, dribbling, work. I don't usually like making comparisons, but there's something."

This Thursday, a joint screening is planned at Shibli. "Yusuf invited us to watch the game with him and there is supposed to be a huge screening in the village. There's no one who doesn't know that this kid from this little village scored a goal against the big Brazilian team," Simoni said.

  • sport
  • Israeli football
  • Israeli national teams


  • Mondialito
  • Hamza Shibli

Source: walla

All sports articles on 2023-06-05

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