The youth team players celebrate qualifying for the semi-finals of the World Cup (Photo: Israel Football Association)
When Roy Revivo was 10 years old, Kobi Mishan coached him in his first season in Maccabi Tel Aviv North's pre-C team, and decided one Saturday to place him on the wing. Abba Haim Revivo approached him at the end of the game and asked: "Don't put him in an offensive position anymore, even if he is the best. He's a left-back."
The coach honored the request. It was the first and last time Haim Revivo spoke to a coach. "I've never seen Haim in training. And if there was, sit on the side and watch, so as not to stress the child," recalls his later coach in youth and youth, Uri David.
It was not apathy, on the contrary. Haim Revivo accompanies his son's career in a calculated way. Everything is planned, everything goes according to plans, sometimes even ahead of the later.
Haim Revivo is a football legend in Israel: plays for Maccabi Haifa and the Israeli national team, a tremendous career at Celta Vigo, a high-profile move to Turkey and starring in Istanbul's two top teams, Galatasaray and Fenerbahce, and a sensational move between them. Roy was born on 22 May 2003, five days after his father's last goal in Turkey, against Encaragucho and two days before his last game there, in a derby against Besiktas. A chapter has ended, a new chapter has begun.
Everything is planned. Roy Revivo (Photo: Reuters)
Chaim and Sagit Revivo have five good children, Neot Afka, three of them boys. The eldest is 27, Roy is 20 and there is an 11-year-old younger brother. Everyone is attached to the ball, everyone sleeps with it, Roy was the most serious, got the farthest. "There wasn't a single moment when I had to tell him, 'You're not making an effort,' that I should have woken him up. There wasn't a single time I had to tell him to concentrate on football," Haim recalled this week before taking off for Buenos Aires to watch Israel's last two remaining matches in the tournament.
When Haim realized that Roy was taking it forward, he made a decision: the boy would not play the role in which he starred. "He used to go in like that at age 7 that I would be scared, I wouldn't put my foot in. And all this, with technique. I immediately knew that the best thing for him was a left-back. He wanted a bit of a wing, but there was a lack of left-back defenders in the world. I was already thinking about where he could move forward and how to get Haim Revivo's bag off his back, and as a left-back it was already difficult to make a comparison. If he played on the wing like me, the question would be whether he was like his father or not." Arik Levy, who was Roy's professional manager at Maccabi Tel Aviv North, also clarifies the difference: "I'm from Haim's yearbook, I played against him. Was a derbalist, with depth and suffix. Roy is not the same player. He has a father at home who understood and recognized it in the first half hour."
It's an ingenious decision, no less. When we phoned Lior Berkowitz, Eyal Berkowitz's son, a neighbor who plays the same role as his father and this season – also because of injury – saw very few minutes at Hapoel Petah Tikva, you could understand Haim Revivo's decision. "Chaim was 7% right," he said. "It's not easy to be in football, the son of. In football, it's the exact opposite of life itself. From what I felt, people just wanted to ruin me. And there's nothing I can do, I went for the role of dad from the age of <>, and today they're not looking for a playmaker, they're also looking for physicality."
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Despite Haim's decision, the beginning was not easy. "This thing he has on his back had an impact at younger ages because the competition was big at the time and there was always talk about him playing because of his dad. As he progressed in age and grew, the talk stopped," Uri David recalled. Eric Levy: "He distanced himself so far from the situation that they wouldn't make the comparison. And it worked, really."
Yoni Portugues was in this northern team of Maccabi Tel Aviv, with Omer Senior and Stav Lemkin - who later left for Hapoel Tel Aviv - would come from Givatayim, knew Roy from the age of 6, stayed quite a bit at his home. "The hardest thing is when you're someone's son," he says, "He was always there to prove that he was Roy Revivo and not Chaim's son. That was his main goal, to show that he is quality in his own right."
Professionals who worked with him tell of a very reserved boy (Haim: "He took that from Sagit"), very serious, focused on a goal, dealing only with football. You can hardly find him playing martial arts games on the PlayStation with his brothers. Haim says he's "funny," Arik Levy simplifies: "He's not a radish, he has a beauty of humor, like Matti Caspi's."
Haim clarifies: "It's not easy for any child who grew up in the home of a soccer player, it's not easy for anyone. As a father, the only thing I cared about teaching him was that football was just a profession. Eventually, you meet person to person. The idea is to respect everyone and maintain modesty no matter what Olympus you have reached - the most important thing is to have your feet on the ground. Frankly, I'm proud of him for keeping a low profile. I think he's very mature for his age. It is cold and peaceful, which is also reflected in the game itself. He's focused on football and he acts like he's been playing for so many years."
And there was another element that shaped Roy Revivo's personality, which runs through the current youth team: the socio-economic issue. Maccabi Tel Aviv is proud that the lion's share of the 2003 team in the northern branch of the department constitutes the skeleton of the current youth team at the World Cup. These are children who come from very affluent strata, from prestigious neighborhoods, not the typecast of the typical Israeli footballer, with the rag ball and playing on the field until the night hours. These are footballers who don't play for bread, but for fun. Uri David: "He comes from a home where there is no economic problem, there is no drive of status, so he pushes himself."
As such, Roy Revivo has evolved as if out of the PlayStation games with which he passes the time. He improves the technique more and more in futsal and fucivelli games. "A very hardworking child, very goal-oriented," Uri David will say of him. "He has a first touch stop, the best I've seen, more than offensive players, beyond that, he's aggressive and a fighter. He's a real Maccabist."
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"He plays for the enjoyment of the game and not as a profession." Van den Bergh (Photo: official website, Maccabi Tel Aviv)
Not everyone was able to digest the concept – a kid who plays only a left-back and is hungry for victory – because in footballer education, let alone player design as Patrick van Leeuwen tried to instill in the youth department, before he started annoying parents, winning is not the main thing. Peter van den Bergh, who was Revivo's youth coach last season, a Dutchman who now works as an assistant coach at Willem II in the Dutch league, knows him intimately. With him, Maccabi Tel Aviv was in a good position for the double, led the table, and then Van den Bergh had a problem in the center of the defense. He approached his captain, Roy Revivo, and asked him to act as a left-back. Revivo replied: "I'd rather sit on the bench than play as a left-back. It's hard for me to attack from this position."
Van den Bergh was surprised, not to say offended. We caught him this week driving from Holland to Catalonia for a holiday. "I have to say, it surprised me then, I thought he could be a left-back."
- Why left brake?
"Because he understands the game. He can improve our offensive game through defense. It could have improved his game."
Van den Bergh's conclusion is interesting: "He plays for the enjoyment of the game and not as a profession. With his body language, I could tell he didn't like the idea. And if he doesn't like the game he has to play, you make a mistake and you don't get the real Roy Revivo. That's why I put him back in his natural position."
That doesn't stop the Dutchman from criticizing: "He doesn't like defending so much. In his nature he enjoys the game, but then he does not give the maximum of his potential. He has technical abilities to move forward. I'm just wondering about his mentality. It's nice to win, but at this age, when I've coached him, the most important thing is how you play."
At the beginning of the current season, Roy Revivo was finally promoted to the senior team, did not remain as a youth exception, waited for his opportunity, which had not yet arrived, and received it only in December, in the ranking matches of the Toto Cup, against Hapoel Jerusalem, when he replaced Yonatan Cohen. Haim Revivo understood that the boy had to play, and then Hapoel Jerusalem came and dressed like a glove. The group of fans wanted Revivo even before that, but only got him in the January transfer window. He wanted her, too. Haim Revivo: "I aimed for Hapoel Jerusalem, a team that plays offensively, succeeds, and certainly with Ziv Arie as coach because it's like Ofir Haim's style. Ziv combines young people and Hapoel Jerusalem is the team that suited him."
Even the father did not believe that he would play so much. In Jerusalem, they say it plain and simple, or in the exact words of professional director Shai Aharon: "In an age of a lot of data and parameters, not all things are visible. In his case, as soon as you see him playing, you should not get down to the parameters. You see a whole player at a very young age."
Jerusalem is enthusiastic. They call Roy Revivo "a confident player bordering on arrogance." A source in the team told us this week: "When a youth player comes up in front of a noble Omer in front of 30,000 people at Sammy Ofer, he rises with strength and trembling, with his legs bent, is afraid of the event. Roy Revivo will approach the event with an attitude of 'when do I get the ball out and give an offensive pass'. It's a power of inner self-confidence." The group's psychologist Nadav Gavish gave him a personality profile and came to the conclusion that Haim Revivo's story was present in his life. Yes, even in Jerusalem we diagnosed: "Roy Revivo came to enjoy the game and came to win."
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"A complete actor at a very young age." Roy Revivo (Photo: Bernie Ardov)
Time is about to take its course. Revivo returns from the World Cup on his way to becoming a member of the youth squad for the Euros, which will begin in two weeks in Georgia, while he is in the Maccabi Tel Aviv squad for the 2023/24 season. In Haim Revivo's tight plan for his son's career, the almost Spartan plan in its perception, he will have to play for Maccabi Tel Aviv for at least the next two years, fight for his place, step up the level of mental difficulty - the competition for your place. Haim: "As a father who was already in football, I don't want him to progress too fast, because it may be nice all these national team games and half a year at Hapoel Jerusalem, but he has to prove himself at Maccabi Tel Aviv, that he can play the season and be a player in the team. He needs to fight for his place, he needs to tear off a few more pairs of shoes."
Jerusalem thinks that until now Roy Revivo's career management has been on the verge of perfect, but one leap too big could burn him out and he must play - but actually play - one more full season before returning to Maccabi Tel Aviv. Shai Aharon sums it up this way: "This will be the defender of our national team in the coming years, but he must play another intermediate team for 90 minutes every week."
Abba Revivo thinks differently, he has long-term plans that correspond with the Portuguese passport Roy is due to receive in a year. "That's his advantage over Haim Revivo," says the father. "One of the things that stops the Israeli player is the lack of this passport. Teams want to take a player with a passport, otherwise they have to choose between you and an Argentine or Brazilian or Croatian player."
Van den Bergh kept his professional prediction: "I think he has the capabilities to be a European player, but I'm not sure he'll be at Oscar Gloch's level. With his technique he will be a great fit for Holland and from there he can progress."
- Israeli football
- Israeli national teams
- Roy Revivo