Beautiful days with painful memories. Eitan Mizrahi/Maariv, Adi Avishai
"It was 1992, a damn day. I stayed with the Olympic team in a closed training camp in Shfayim, in one room with Itzik Kornfein. After breakfast, we went up to the room and talked about general issues. A few minutes later, suddenly there was a knock on the door, Shlomo Scharf, Dr. Rosnovsky, Israel Stuchinsky and Eyal Berkowitz quietly entered the room. Scharf and Berkowitz hugged me, Stuchinsky said I had to go home to Jerusalem now. They didn't say what happened, I got blacked out, I thought of something big for my parents. I prepared my personal bag, got into a special van with Stuchinsky and Rosnovsky, passengers and I don't know anything, sitting frozen, believing in the good."
You arrive at your parents' home in Armon Hanatziv, and what happened there?
"Next to the house are a lot of residents, a lot of police cars and a lot of media people. It got dark in my eyes. My father, my brother Hezi and a neighbor named Dalia left the house in the morning to stand at a bus stop. Dad stood up first because he thought someone from the neighborhood would know him and everyone would hitch a ride. Suddenly, a terrorist came from behind and stabbed my strong, sturdy chest one deep stab in the heart, in the main artery. He pulled out the knife and began attacking the neighbor. My father, seeing what was happening, rushed to the scene, fought the terrorist and was wounded in the head. Chezi still got up to help my father and neighbor and fell to the ground, in front of my father, on the pavement. Chezi was 29 years old and got married that same year. It was difficult in the family, my father was treated for an injury in hospital, but out of grief and injury he passed away a year after the murder. My mother passed away 3 years ago."
The murdered brother, Hezi Mizrahi z"l/Courtesy Eitan Mizrahi
Eitan Mizrahi was born in Jerusalem on January 22, 1972. "Father Moshe was born in Israel, Mother Sarah was born in Iraq. We are five brothers and one sister, little me. At first the family lived in the old Mamilla neighborhood, I grew up with the stories of my parents and siblings about a difficult neighborhood. People came out of it who studied, advanced in life, many went to serve in the senior cruisers in the army, there were also those who turned to crime. The stories in the family were about the Old City, about sniper fire and about milk that arrived on a donkey and urns. I was born after the Six-Day War, the neighborhood advanced, today the city's main shopping mall and the most prestigious places to live are where it used to be."
What was special about football anyway?
"The great love for Beitar Jerusalem, for the YMCA field, two minutes walk. Everyone loved Saturday mornings, stanga and futsal games. Almost the entire neighborhood, about <>,<> young and old, gathered to watch the boys' games, where the Waldorf Astoria Hotel now stands. The big star, the stanga champion, was Uri Malmilian, his performance was otherworldly. There was also another huge star, Emmanuel Cohen, whom Malmilian admired. He came to Beitar Jerusalem, but passed away at a young age."
After that, the family left. "Everyone did a bad business, some knew what would happen to Mamilla over the years. The families with many children did not know what would happen, persuaded them to move from small two-room residences to larger houses with few perks. They worked on them, because today it's the top of Jerusalem anyway."
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Eitan Mizrahi Hayom/PR
How did football start?
"At the age of 7 or 8, my brother Nissim, who saw me with the ball from morning to evening in the yard, took me to Beitar Jerusalem. He was an Egged member and passed along with the legendary brake Shaul Mizrahi who took care of my arrival. I remember my brother picking me up with the bus and bringing me to Beit Gan for the first practice."
Then came the news. "After a single training session, the team manager called me, my heart was pounding. He told me that one of the team's players had left, and that I had to go home to get the equipment bag. I walked, there was no extra money, for two hours and got my bag. I peeked inside, there were socks, pants and a Beitar Jerusalem shirt. I'm in a dream, I've taken the longest road again, which has become the shortest."
The fact that he came from a religious home made it difficult. "Game Saturdays, home or away, were a special offer. We left Mamilla for Armon Hanatziv. On Saturday I woke up at 05:30 A.M., summer and winter. I prepared myself for the march on foot for an hour and a half or more to Beit Vagan. I arrived more than two hours each time from the scheduled time. Only later, in the boys' team, did they make sure that the parents of players with a car picked me up and brought me home."
With son Leon/PR
A phone call from Israel Stuchinsky that comes to your home.
"I wasn't 14 yet. One evening the phone rang, and on the line was Lala Stuczynski, the manager of the boys' team. After he recognized that he was talking to me, he told me that I would arrive at the Ramat Gan Stadium tomorrow. I was really shocked, I couldn't get up from my chair."
Who are the actors you met?
"They put me on the national team a year older than me - Tal Benin, Zohar, Ben Shimon and more. I went to the Golden Oatmeal tournament in Hungary at Zohar's expense, we won the tournament, I had good games, from here the road only went forward. In the youth team coach Danny Neumann promoted me professionally, Zavik Seltzer in the 1989/90 season gave me the stage even though we finished at the bottom of the table."
At the beginning of the 90s, interest in Jerusalem newspapers reached a peak. "The legendary Eli Ben Rimog wrote a commentary in the newspaper 'Index' - 'Eitan Mizrahi made a porphyra in defense for the pioneers, his breakthrough is on the way'", but only one season passed and Beitar was relegated to the national league. "We started well and led the table, but the Gulf War caused a painful relegation."
You have a story from the Aliyah game against Shimshon in Herzliya.
"A very difficult away game. Before going onto the field, Zion Ohana picked us up in the bathroom plaza. He gave us a ball that he said would make us run nonstop. We swallowed the ball apprehensively, went out 0-0 and went up. At the end of Zion he clarified that we received sugar."
Specially deserved. Stuchinsky with youth team players/official website, Israel Football Association
We return to the murder story. How does the loss affect you, I asked. "It was the beginning of the great championship season under Dror Kashtan, 1992/93. I was between lack of energy for football and mentally exhausted, and wanting to fulfill Chezi's wish, who came to every training session and game I played, he was the other part of me. Before Shabbat games, Beitar Jerusalem arranged a room for me at the Holyland Hotel, from where I got to Teddy. I got a supportive hug from Kashtan, Dadash and Eli Ohana who is my friend and true brother. I got a hug from the crowd and felt a little better. We won an impressive championship title, and my contribution was one goal.
He is married to Yifat, a high school educational counselor, with four children, two boys and two girls. "My eldest son Chezi was named after my brother. He is 4 years old, grew up in Beitar Jerusalem, moved to Hapoel Petah Tikva and now plays for Beitar Nordia. He is a structural engineer leading the construction of one of Jerusalem's leading projects. The second son, Leon, 25, is a great talent at Beitar Jerusalem. Leon started in the lineup against M.S. Ashdod is a great hope for Avoxis."
On your list are three championships with Beitar.
"Yes, I won in 20, 1993 and 1997. I would like to talk about Eli Cohen, the sheriff and Kashtan. Sheriff was like a glove to Beitar, he had the character of the club, he took off with the players with a heart and a gentle soul, with the right aggressiveness. Dror, that's Dror, was super dominant on and off the field, the players gave everything for him."
There was a huge story by Moshe Dadash about a casino and a luxury watch.
"We were in a preparatory camp in Belgium for the Intertoto games. We returned via Eindhoven airport. There was a casino adjacent to the airport, the players went shopping at duty free. Dadash and Shawn Shem Tov went up to the casino to try and make a checkout. After about an hour they returned, Dadash had a fancy watch that everyone was excited and desired. It turns out that he made a huge move in the casino, earned a crazy amount, entered duty free and purchased a super spectacular watch for NIS 1998,200. He took off the previous watch, which in itself was magnificent, and if I'm not mistaken, he wore it to Yossi Abukasis in recognition of the championship title."
Soul player. Mizrahi/Maariv, Danny Maron
In 1999 he moved to Maccabi Herzliya. "I had a posterior muscle injury for several months. Eli Ohana thought I needed to rehabilitate in a different team from the injury. Uri Malmilian asked me to sign for Maccabi Herzliya, which he was supposed to coach, Stefan Shaloy also asked me. I signed until the end of the season in Herzliya, but Malmilian moved at the last minute to coach Maccabi Netanya."
Did football help financially?
"I knew how to make a contract in which Beitar would pay most of the money for an apartment in Pisgat Ze'ev, an apartment below which my mother lived. I paid part of her price. Now I'm getting ready to leave and live in the Nachlaot area. From Herzliya, I returned to Beitar Jerusalem for years that were financially difficult. But my identification with the club was 200 percent, even if we didn't receive salaries for four months."
He completed his part as an active footballer in 4, a retirement season under Uri Malmilian at Hakoah Amidar Ramat Gan, and then became a scout for Beitar. "I flew to Argentina under Giora Spiegel and Yitzhak Shum. I saw River Plate in Buenos Aires. Their striker, Sebastian Abreu, was a great wide striker. I met with the president of River Mario Israel, who emphasized that he is not Jewish. About Abreu he said he gives expats in bunches. I asked other football people, they said that his nickname is 'Loco', he is a killer on the field and in the dressing room in a positive sense, a kind of Giovanni Russo with us. Giora and Shum, through the club's staff, closed the crossing.
"He had the demands of a super professional, everything was ticked. We played in Europe against Wisła Kraków, he was excellent in our 2003-1 win at home, the talk was that if we got past the Poles we would get Barcelona. We lost in Poland 2-5. Abreu played soon and left because the professional staff had to change the entire professional system because of him. It's a shame, a huge player."
Pulled out of Maccabi Haifa. Desa / Maged Gozni
Eli Dassa is your player, an amazing story from Maccabi Tel Aviv to Beit Gan.
"I was the scout and saw Eli Dassa at the age of 13 at the Tel Aviv Boys' Derby. I was impressed that a big star was growing here at the right defensive position. I talked to Dasa's mother, promised that Eli would get all the conditions at home and kindergarten, but it didn't develop. A year later I got a call from our boys defender, Tom Luria, who himself was supposed to develop into the next thing in football, but was stopped in a forward break. He told me that he had problems with Maccabi Tel Aviv and went to close at Maccabi Haifa. I called Dasa, he was on the bus on his way to close at Shmuel Hanin's in Haifa. I got into the car, galloped and asked him to choose Beitar Jerusalem. Dassa promised that he would come to Beitar tomorrow, which he did. With the help of Roy Kehat's father, he signed with us. He's a genius guy in his studies, he did 5 units with honors."
You also brought Idan Vered.
"I saw Vered at the age of 16 at Hakoah Ramat Gan, a little guy with special coordination and a wonderful one-on-one. He preferred Maccabi Tel Aviv, but after a few months through Nimrod, his father, I brought him to the youth of Beitar and from there to the adults."
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