Maccabi Haifa defender Ofri Arad has parted ways with the club and is expected to sign a new two-year contract with Kazakh club Kayra, to which he was loaned last January. The decision to part ways is shared by Greens and Arad, who won two championships with the team.
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"I don't know how you can say goodbye after 17 years in green," the player wrote in a social media post, "so many memories and moments from the club, the crowd, the green shirt, the symbol. That can't be described in words. That's not how I expected to say goodbye to the place I love most, I'm writing this and I'm in tears.
"Since birth, I've been a fan of the team. An ordinary fan of Grandpa Eliezer. I was educated and raised on the values of Maccabi Haifa. The irons in the third stand. The chills in every goal and the dream of a child who lives and breathes football, who dreams of one day being a player on the field."
Arad continued in the moving post and said: "At the age of 8 I reached foam, I wore the green shirt and since then I have felt at home. Over the years I have been privileged to rise to the senior level and be part of the beautiful years that the club has experienced. Two youth championships and two senior championships, the first of which will be etched in my memory and blood forever. A stranger won't understand it - how the voice trembled with excitement as we sang 'The championship is back home to Carmel.
"What the strengths of this thing (say) to the green fans of the team. Fight on the grass, spit blood on the field, play for the symbol. I got to take part in European competitions, Champions League and many historical moments. Moments you live and breathe for. Most of all, and all along the way, I got to experience the best audience in the world.
"When I graduated, I promised myself that I would do everything I could to get the crowd back to enjoy the team. And so it was that we grew together, painting the city and the country green. I grew up with you and alongside you. You strengthened me, you strengthened me, you matured me, you supported me, you lifted me up. You're not just another crowd and it's not another group on the way. You are my home. I am part of you."
Arad concluded: "It's not easy to leave your home. But sometimes you have to. After a loan season at Kairat, the club and I came to an agreement that it was not my time to return. I want to say thank you to everyone who has been there for me along the way. Thank you Yankele, Uzi and Or for being there for me through good and bad. To the coaches who believed in me and to the coaches who didn't, you just made me work harder.
"To the players who were like brothers, with whom I shared a dressing room in green. To the amazing employees of the club with whom I had a special bond. To the best audience in history, thank you for being there to push me every moment. In the good moments and especially in the bad moments, even then you showed up and knew the reinforcement I needed. I love each and every one of you to the depths of my soul. There is a great longing and I will miss you all.
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"Keep shaking the country and the world. I very much hope that we will meet again in the future. I was and will remain the number one fan in green, 'All my life with you, Maccabi until my last day.'"
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