Israeli joins A-League

December 3, 2020 by Elana Bowman
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Israeli football striker Tomer Hemed has signed to play for New Zealand club the Wellington Phoenix in the A-League.

Tomer Hemed Photo: Wikimedia commons

He started playing football for Maccabi Haifa, was to loaned Maccabi Herzliya before returning to Maccabi Haifa. He scored 18 goals as the club was crowned champions

He signed up for Spanish clubs Mallorca and Almeria becoming the latter’s top goalscorer.

In 2015 he joined Brighton the football club owned by Tony Bloom, in the fifth largest Jewish community in the United Kingdom. He played for Brighton for five years.

He was also on loan to Queens Park Rangers and has just left Charlton Athletic after a one-year contract. 

During his time with Queens Park Rangers in 2018, he sat out the first half of his English due to the Jewish fast of Yom Kippur, his coach said.

“As an Israeli, he follows the Jewish religion meticulously, and today is Yom Kippur, which is the Day of Atonement,”

Queens Park Rangers manager Steve McClaren told reporters before the game when asked why star striker Tomer Hemed would not start. Hemed came on in the second half of Queens Park Rangers 2-0 win over Millwall after eating some bananas and pasta.

 

The striker told media: “Football is my life – and it is maybe one of the most important things in my life – but first of all there is family and religion.”

Hemed sought advice from Socceroos midfielder Massimo Luongo, a former team-mate at Queens Park Rangers, as well as Phoenix striker David Ball before putting pen to paper for Wellington but said he did not need much convincing from his friends who had previously travelled to Australia and New Zealand.

Tomer told media:  “I thought it was a big adventure for me and a good opportunity to try now in that stage of my career after I’ve done a lot in Europe. Now I want to do the same as I’ve done in Europe here in Australia.”

The 33-year-old spent the past three months training with a private coach in London to build up his sharpness ahead of the long-awaited move to Australia and is currently completing his 14-day quarantine in Sydney.

The team will be based in Sydney for the foreseeable time depending on the trans-Tasman bubble. 

“My expectation is to be the guy that will score the goals but I will try to help the team in any way that I can; if it’s to create chances or to push the guys around me,” Hemed said.

Hemed’s wife Shunit Faragi won the Miss Israel Universe crown and represented her country at the Miss Universe 2008 pageant. She and their three children have stayed back in London for now, but the plan is for them to travel to Australia via New Zealand in the coming weeks.

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