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Yossi Benayoun

Yosef Shai "Yossi" Benayoun (, born 5 May 1980) is an Israeli international Association football who plays for Arsenal F.C. on loan from Chelsea F.C..

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Yossi Benayoun biography

Yosef Shai "Yossi" Benayoun (, born 5 May 1980) is an Israeli international Association football who plays for Arsenal F.C. on loan from Chelsea F.C..

Benayoun plays as an attacking midfielder, often occupying the space just behind the striker. In Israel, Yossi Benayoun is sometimes nicknamed "The Diamond from Dimona". Yossi Benayoun is also the captain of the Israel national football team. Benayoun is of Moroccan Sephardic origin, which allowed Yossi Benayoun to acquire Spanish citizenship during Yossi Benayoun time there.

Early years

Jason Burt writing for The Independent described Benayoun's youth years: "aged nine and Yossi Benayoun was spotted as a footballing talent. Aged 11 and the talent was labelled a genius. By 13, Yossi Benayoun face appeared on the front of magazines in Israel". Benayoun started Yossi Benayoun career aged nine with Hapoel Be'er Sheva F.C.. To attend training, Yossi Benayoun regularly hitchhiked the 60 km roundtrip with Yossi Benayoun father.

After making a name for himself, Yossi Benayoun was scouted by AFC Ajax. They invited the 15-year-old Benayoun and Yossi Benayoun family to the Netherlands. By Yossi Benayoun 16th birthday, Yossi Benayoun was the Ajax youth team's highest scorer and best player, and Ajax duly offered Benayoun a four-year professional contract. However, Benayoun and Yossi Benayoun family had not settled very well in Amsterdam, and so Yossi Benayoun turned Yossi Benayoun back on the contract and returned to Israel after just eight months.

Club career

Hapoel Be'er Sheva

At the age of 16, Yossi Benayoun was promoted to the Hapoel Be'er Sheva senior team for the 1997–98 Liga Leumit, but could not prevent the club from being relegated to Israel's second division. In the last match of the season against Maccabi Haifa F.C., Benayoun got a penalty kick in the 90th minute. Haifa's Goalkeeper (association football), Nir Davidovich, saved the shot but Benayoun scored the rebound to give Yossi Benayoun team the win. However, their relegation rival had won their match, meaning that Yossi Benayoun team would be relegated nonetheless. Seconds after scoring, while celebrating the winning and what Yossi Benayoun thought to be a league survival goal, Benayoun found out about the relegation and burst into tears. Benayoun finished as the league's joint fourth-leading goalscorer that season, with 15 goals in 25 appearances.

Maccabi Haifa

After that season, Benayoun moved to Maccabi Haifa in a deal signed by Ya'akov Shahar (Maccabi Haifa's president) and Eli Zino (the former Be'er Sheva president), and it was agreed that the two clubs would share the profits from selling Benayoun to a European club.

In 1998, under the guidance of Dusan Uhrin and Daniel Brailovsky, Benayoun and Haifa reached the quarterfinals of the 1998–99 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, and Yossi Benayoun scored a late equaliser against Paris Saint-Germain F.C. and also against SV Ried in a 4–1 victory.

Benayoun also scored 16 goals in 29 matches for Haifa in the Liga Leumit 1998–99, finishing the season as the equal eighth leading goalscorer for Yossi Benayoun team

In 1999, Yossi Benayoun confronted Yossi Benayoun manager Eli Cohen (footballer born 1951), when Benayoun allegedly refused to be substituted during a match. This incident, plus a bad month for the club, ultimately caused Cohen's resignation. In the first ever Israeli Premier League of 1999 to 2000, (this league replaced the Liga Leumit which then became the second tier of club football), Benayoun scored 19 goals in 38 matches for Maccabi Haifa F.C., and was the league's third highest goalscorer.

In the Israeli Premier League 2000–01 under the guidance of Avram Grant, Benayoun led Haifa to a first championship after seven years and was chosen as the Most Valuable Player of the season, after amassing 13 goals in 37 matches. Another successful season placed Yossi Benayoun as the league's equal sixth highest goalscorer.

The Israeli Premier League 2001–02, Benayoun helped Maccabi Haifa win another championship, despite suffering from an injury in the beginning of the season. When Yossi Benayoun returned to play, Yossi Benayoun combined well with Đovani Roso, Raimondas Žutautas, and Yakubu Aiyegbeni to win the championship. In Yossi Benayoun last season with Maccabi Haifa F.C., Benayoun scored 7 times in 33 matches

Benayoun made 130 appearances for Haifa, scoring 55 goals.

West Ham United

Newly promoted Premier League team West Ham United F.C. completed the signing of Benayoun in July 2005 for a fee of £2.5 million, with Benayoun signing a four-year contract. Manager Alan Pardew hailed the signing citing Benayoun's ability to 'open the door when teams sit deep' while Benayoun revealed Yossi Benayoun excitement at the opportunity to play for West Ham and in the Premiership.

The signing appeared to be a match made in heaven following Benayoun's first season in which Yossi Benayoun scored five Premier League goals and made eight Premier League assists. Yossi Benayoun made Yossi Benayoun Premiership debut for West Ham on the opening day of the 2005–06 FA Premier League season (13 August 2005 against Blackburn Rovers F.C.) in West Ham's 3–1 win. Yossi Benayoun went on to score Yossi Benayoun first Premiership goal for the club when Yossi Benayoun netted the closing goal in a 4–0 home victory over Aston Villa F.C. on 12 September 2005.

Benayoun played in the 125th FA Cup Final for West Ham against European Champions Liverpool F.C.. Benayoun scored five times in 34 matches in Yossi Benayoun first season at West Ham, 3 goals in 29 appearances Yossi Benayoun second.


Benayoun moved to Liverpool under controversial circumstances. Yossi Benayoun had verbally agreed a new four-year deal with West Ham in May 2007, only to go back on the agreement in a bid to move to Liverpool. The controversy was heightened on 10 July when the Israeli media reported that Benayoun's agent, Ronen Katsav, had agreed a deal with Liverpool which would mean Benayoun taking a lower pay than the £50,000 a week offered by West Ham in May. On 12 July, Liverpool reported on their official website that the signing of Yossi Benayoun had been completed a £5 million deal with Yossi Benayoun signing a four-year contract.

Benayoun was introduced as a Liverpool player along with Ryan Babel on 13 July, and was given the number 11 shirt. Yossi Benayoun made Yossi Benayoun first competitive start for Liverpool against Toulouse FC in the UEFA Champions League qualifier 3rd round 1st leg. Yossi Benayoun first goal for Liverpool came on 25 September 2007 when Yossi Benayoun scored against Reading F.C. in the Carling Cup with a wonderful solo effort. Yossi scored a second hat trick against a mismatched opponent in Yossi Benayoun first season against non-league side Havant & Waterlooville in the FA Cup, a team 122 places behind Liverpool on the league pyramid. Benayoun ended a successful first season having played 48 games scoring 11 goals in the process, including four league goals against Wigan Athletic F.C., Portsmouth F.C., Aston Villa, and Birmingham City F.C..

However, Yossi Benayoun performance was not enough to prevent transfer rumours in the summer of 2008. This led to the Israeli openly announcing Yossi Benayoun intention to stay, saying: "Liverpool is good for me and it was always clear I want to stay and Liverpool wants me," Yossi was given Yossi Benayoun preferred number 15 shirt (which was occupied by Peter Crouch during the 2007–08 season but was vacated when Yossi Benayoun moved to Portsmouth F.C.) for the 2008–09 season. Benayoun had worn the number 11 during Yossi Benayoun first season at the club, but switched to Yossi Benayoun favourite number 15, the number Yossi Benayoun wore for Hapoel Be'er Sheva F.C., Maccabi Haifa F.C., Racing de Santander, West Ham United F.C. and Israel national football team.

On 6 December 2008, Benayoun scored Yossi Benayoun first goal of the 2008–09 season in Liverpool's 3–1 victory over Blackburn Rovers F.C..

On 25 February 2009, Benayoun scored a header from Fábio Aurélio's free-kick in the 82nd minute against Real Madrid C.F. at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium in the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 to give Liverpool a 1–0 win. This is probably the most important goal Yossi Benayoun has scored in Yossi Benayoun career to date. "To score in the Champions League was special. It was one of the favourite goals of my career ... I am really pleased to score at the Bernabeu but the most important thing was to get the victory", Benayoun said after the match.

Again on 4 April 2009, Benayoun came on as a substitute in Liverpool's match against Fulham F.C. to score a dramatic winner in the 94th minute. On 21 April 2009, in a home match against Arsenal F.C., Yossi Benayoun scored a diving header and volleyed a late equaliser in injury time to level the scores at 4–4.

Benayoun finished Yossi Benayoun second season at Anfield in spectacular fashion; scoring a goal in each of Liverpool's last three home matches. In the 2008–09 season, Benayoun played in 39 matches, scoring 9 goals, including eight league goals against Wigan Athletic F.C., Blackburn Rovers F.C., Newcastle United F.C., Sunderland A.F.C., Fulham F.C., Tottenham Hotspur and a brace against Arsenal. Yossi Benayoun established a regular starting position in the Liverpool team in the second half of the season.

On 6 July 2009, Yossi Benayoun signed a two-year contract extension tying Yossi Benayoun to the club until 2013.

On 12 September 2009, Yossi Benayoun scored Yossi Benayoun first Premier League hat-trick for Liverpool in a 4–0 win against Burnley F.C.. It was Yossi Benayoun third Liverpool hat-trick to date after the ones against Beşiktaş J.K. in an 8–0 victory and against Havant & Waterlooville F.C. in a 5–2 win for Liverpool. Yossi Benayoun remains the only player to score Premiership, Champions League and FA Cup hat tricks. Yossi Benayoun scored the first goal in Liverpool's 3–0 win over West Ham.


Benayoun signed for Chelsea F.C. on 2 July 2010, agreeing on a three-year deal, and keeping Yossi Benayoun with the Stamford Bridge (stadium) club until summer 2013. Both clubs agreed on a fee of reported £5.5m for the transfer of the Israeli winger's services. Yossi Benayoun said, in a statement to the club's official website, "I am very excited to come to a club like Chelsea, it is a big club and I think it is a dream for every player. Hopefully we will be successful."

Benayoun made Yossi Benayoun debut against Eintracht Frankfurt in a pre-season friendly before making Yossi Benayoun first competitive appearance on 8 August in a 3–1 loss against Manchester United F.C. in the 2010 FA Community Shield, by coming on for left-winger Florent Malouda in the 72nd minute. On 21 August, Benayoun scored Yossi Benayoun first league goal in the 93rd minute for Chelsea in a 6–0 thrashing of Wigan Athletic F.C. at the DW Stadium in Wigan, Greater Manchester.
On 22 September, Benayoun ruptured Yossi Benayoun achilles during Chelsea's 4–3 Football League Cup loss against Newcastle United F.C.. Benayoun fully recovered from this injury and was played in the second half against Wigan Athletic on 9 April 2011.

On 26 August 2011, Benayoun offered Juan Mata Yossi Benayoun number 10 shirt. The Israeli captain said: "I decided to give Mata the number 10 – Yossi Benayoun favourite. For me it's just a number, not my lucky 15." (Florent Malouda wears number 15 for Chelsea.) Mata wore the shirt for Valencia and while skippering Spain's Under 21s in the summer and expressed Yossi Benayoun gratitude to Benayoun. "It is a very important number to me so I'm pleased to be wearing it. I want to thank Yossi," Yossi Benayoun said. Benayoun changed to wear number 30 shirt.


On 31 August 2011, it was confirmed Yossi Benayoun had joined Arsenal F.C. on a one year deal. Benayoun made Yossi Benayoun debut on 10 September 2011 coming on as a second half substitute for Andrei Arshavin against Swansea City F.C.. On 20 September 2011, Benayoun scored Yossi Benayoun first goal for Arsenal in the 78th minute of a Football League Cup match against Shrewsbury Town F.C..
Benayoun scored Yossi Benayoun first UEFA Champions League goal for Arsenal F.C in a 3–1 defeat to Olympiakos. Yossi Benayoun scored Yossi Benayoun first Premier League goal for Arsenal against Aston Villa, scoring an 87th minute header in a 2–1 victory on 21 December 2011.
Benayoun captained Arsenal F.C in their 1–0 Football League Cup defeat to Manchester City F.C. Benayoun stated “The truth is I did not expect this, but it was a nice moment. When the line-up was revealed at the hotel, I saw the letter ‘C’ next to my name; I thought there was some mix up. But overall it was a nice experience”

International career

Benayoun was a member of the Israel U16 team that came third in the 1996 UEFA European Under-16 Championship.

Yossi Benayoun made Yossi Benayoun senior debut for Israel national football team against Portugal national football team in a friendly on 18 November 1998 that resulted in a 2–0 away loss. Benayoun scored Yossi Benayoun first international hat-trick in a UEFA Euro 2000 qualifier against San Marino national football team at Ramat Gan Stadium on 8 September 1999. The match finished as an 8–0 win for Israel.

During the 2006 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, Benayoun became the leading player of the Israel national football team after equalizing against Cyprus national football team at home (in a game that ended 2–1 to Israel) and scoring twice against Switzerland national football team. In the away game in Cyprus, Benayoun assisted the winning goal after Nir Davidovich saved a crucial goal. Yossi Benayoun strong performances gave Israel a chance at qualifying for the World Cup, but they missed out on goal difference.

Just prior to the UEFA Euro 2008 qualifiers, Benayoun was given the captaincy of the Israeli national team. In eight appearances in the qualifiers, Benayoun has scored two goals. On 2 September 2010, Benayoun scored Yossi Benayoun second international hat-trick against Malta in a 3–1 win.

International goals


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