Out of all of the greats who have donned the blue shirt for Israel’s national team, few are as quite as emblematic as Yossi Benayoun. The 37-year-old became the first player to reach 100 caps for Israel at full international level in Friday’s 0-1 win over Liechtenstein in Vaduz. Last night, the Israel Football Association (IFA) paid tribute to Benayoun, presenting him with a trophy to commemorate his century of appearances for the national team just before their 2018 World Cup qualifier against Spain kicked off at Teddy Stadium.
Benayoun, the first player to make 100 appearances for Israel
Benayoun started the match on the bench last night but was brought on with 74 minutes gone. He ended on the losing side with Asier Illarramendi’s stunning strike handing Spain all three points as Israel bow out of the competition at the qualifying stage. Benayoun has now made 101 appearances and scored 24 goals during his international career. The only active Israel international who is close to reaching as many caps is Maccabi Tel Aviv defender and national team captain Tal Ben Haim who has played 95 games.
Yossi, fondly remembered by Racing, West Ham and Liverpool
Benayoun is considered a national treasure and football icon in his homeland and he is also fondly remembered in Spain for his time at Racing de Santander and also in the Premier League where he was worshipped by West Ham and Liverpool fans. Yossi returned to the Israeli Premier League in 2014 after spending most of his career playing abroad. After spells at Maccabi Tel Aviv and Maccabi Haifa, Yossi signed for Beitar Jerusalem in June.