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Israel's Golan basks

Touristclick Israel Travel News

Israel's Golan basks


Golan's annual salary with Maccabi Petah Tikva is understood to be around £100,000, meaning that Done's gift would have been worth the equivalent of six months' wages.

Deserved rest: Omer Golan on the ground after scoring
"A Mercedes would be nice, a present for my dad," he said. The Israeli Football Association, however, stated that Golan would not be able to accept the gift because it was deemed to be "beyond the bounds of sportsmanship".

"Only the Israel FA can give incentives to the players. Certainly they cannot be given by any interested third party and obviously this applies when the offer comes from a fan of a team which has a direct interest in the result," they said in a statement.

It was Golan's first competitive international goal and led to him being dubbed the "King of England" by Israel's Yedioth newspaper. Within minutes of the game finishing, both Golan and Elyaniv Barda, scorer of Israel's first goal, were described as "heroes" in England in their entries on the website Wikipedia.

Celebrations within the Israeli camp were interrupted only by a flurry of incoming text-messages.

Unsurprisingly, it was the mobile telephone of Chelsea defender Tal Ben Haim which was most active as words of encouragement and gratitude flooded in from England captain John Terry, midfielder Frank Lampard and the likes of Wayne Bridge, Joe Cole and Ashley Cole.

Some of the messages even arrived before the end of Israel's dramatic 2-1 win over Russia, which granted England, and thereby many of the Chelsea squad, a Euro 2008 lifeline.

"Of course I have had some texts from John Terry, Frank Lampard and all of them. I don't want to say what was in them, but the English players are very committed to your country as well. Now it is up to them," Ben Haim said. "We wanted to prove to ourselves and our fans that we can play good football.

We didn't like it before the game that some players say that Israel are no good. As a footballer, you don't like it if people don't respect you."

Ben Haim may also be looking forward to a holiday after Joe Cole apparently offered to fly him anywhere in the world should Israel pull off this result.

Russia's surprise defeat may also spare both the Football Association and the British economy significant sums of money. While qualifying for Austria and Switzerland next year is reckoned to be worth £10 million to the FA, it is estimated that the short term boost to all sectors of the economy comes in at a staggering £1 billion.

Although Golan stole the headlines, England probably had most reason to thank Barda, who put Israel into the lead, provided the pass for the winner and was a constant attacking threat throughout the game. "He was fantastic. I told him he can be my driver for my new Mercedes," said Golan.

Israel's pleasure at helping England, as well as their satisfaction at winning a match which had attracted such interest, was clear.

"It's my first goal in the national team and it was my best game in the team until now," said Barda. "But England still have to do a job. I believe they will do it, they have some fantastic players."

The conspiracy theorists had suggested that Israel might have some sort of preference for Russia, yet a combination of national pride and the prospect of impressing a sizeable overseas television audience seemed to provide huge motivation.

When he watched training on Wednesday in an England shirt, the former Liverpool defender Avi Cohen had predicted that the Israeli players would be determined to take the chance to showcase their talents to watching Premier League clubs.

His son, Tamir, joked about the possibility of the Israel team now being taken to Buckingham Palace and believes England will complete the job on Wednesday.

"I think England is better than the Russia team," he said.

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