Mar
08
2008
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Yossi – Homesick

Benayoun may be flavour of the month in Liverpool but he has been a superstar in his home country since he was a boy. Spotted as a nine-year-old in Dimona, a small city in Israel’s Negcv desert more famous for its nuclear research centre than its footballers, Benayoun had to show dedication even when he was a child. Hapoel Beer Sheva offered him an opening, but that was 30km away, his father did not have a car and there was no public transport on Saturdays. Soon, however, the skinny boy and his dad hitchhiking from Dimona became a regular sight and as his reputation grew, competition developed to be the one to give them a lift. His natural talent flourished like oasis plants in the desert and news reached the ears of Ajax’s renowned scouting network, who took one look at the then 15-year-olcl before offering what appeared to be a dream move for him and his family to Amsterdam. But Benayoun was not happy: he pined for the desert, he and his family were terribly homesick and he missed his girlfriend, Mirat. Ajax were blown away by “The Kid” though. Aged 16 and the brightest hope in their youth team, Ajax offered Benayoun a tour-year professional contract – every young player’s dream. Lxcepr for Benayoun. To the astonishment of everyone, Yossi turned the offer down, his family returned to their desert home and he to Beer Sheva, a decision that resulted in some virulent criticism in the Israeli press.