Cohen’s Israel Engage Robson’s England

Watched by match referee PHILIPPE MERCIER of Switzerland, the two team captains, Israel defender AVI COHEN (left) of FC Maccabi Tel Aviv and England midfielder BRYAN ROBSON of Manchester United, shake hands and pose for a picture prior to the start of the international friendly on February 26, 1986, at the Ramat Gan Stadium in Tel Aviv. (Bob Thomas/Getty Images)

A month after having defeated Egypt 4-0 at the Nasser Stadium in Cairo, ENGLAND were continuing preparations for the coming FIFA World Cup to be played in Mexico that summer when manager BOBBY ROBSON took a squad to the Middle East for a friendly international with ISRAEL, a side captained by former FC Liverpool player AVI COHEN.

The visiting English footballers, however, suffered an early setback when striker ELI OHANA of FC Beitar Jersualem, who later spent three seasons with KV Mechelen in Belgium and another with Sporting Braga in Portugal, scored in only the 7th minute against legendary England goalkeeper PETER SHILTON of FC Southampton to pleasantly surprise the 30,000 spectators in attendance at the Ramat Gan Stadium in Tel Aviv and give Israel an unlikely 1-0 lead.

Ohana was not the only of the Israeli team to later sign with a European professional club.

Substitute striker RONNY ROSENTHAL signed for Belgian outfit Club Bruges in the summer of 1986 and later succeeded Avi Cohen as a title-winner with legendary English side FC Liverpool; upon joining the Reds initially on loan from Standard Liege for the stretch run of the campaign, Rosenthal scored seven goals as Liverpool captured the 1989-90 First Division championship.

Midfielder MORDECHAI IVANIR would spend a little over a year with Dutch Eredivise club Roda JC Kerkrade while fellow midfielder MOSHE SINAI had a short spell with Belgian club KSK Beveren the same season Ohana left for KVV Mechelen, also in Belgium.


After being held scoreless in the first half by the upstart hosts, Manchester United midfielder and national team captain BRYAN ROBSON, on his 50th appearance for his country, fires the equalizing goal for England in the 51st minute against Israel at the Ramat Gan Stadium in Tel Aviv. (Bob Thomas/Getty Images)

With FC Maccabi Haifa goalkeeper AVI RAN (1) already beaten, Israel captain and former English League player AVI COHEN (5) of FC Maccabi Tel Aviv reaches up with his hands to intentionally knock down the header of England captain BRYAN ROBSON of Manchester United late in the match at the Ramat Gan Stadium in Tel Aviv. (Bob Thomas/Getty Images)

With 22-year-old Israel goalkeeper AVI RAN (1) of FC Maccabi Haifa already moving in the wrong direction, England captain BRYAN ROBSON of Manchester United nets the game-winning goal from the penalty spot in the 86th minute of the international friendly at Tel Aviv’s Ramat Gan Stadium on February 26, 1986. (Bob Thomas/Getty Images)

GK – Avi RAN — Maccabi Haifa – (9 caps)
DF – Eitan AHARONI — Maccabi Haifa – (16 caps, 1 goal)
DF – Menashe SHIMONOV — Maccabi Tel Aviv – (19 caps, 0 goals)
DF – Avi COHEN — Maccabi Tel Aviv – (59 caps, 3 goals)
DF – Efraim DAVIDI — Hapoel Be’er Sheva – (31 caps, 0 goals)
MF – Uri MALMILIAN —Beitar Jerusalem – (62 caps, 16 goals)
MF – Mordechai IVANIR — Maccabi Tel Aviv – (18 caps, 1 goal)
MF – Rifaat TURK — Hapoel Jerusalem – (30 caps, 3 goals)
MF – Moshe SINAI — Hapoel Tel Aviv – (47 caps, 7 goals)
ST – Zahi ARMELI — Maccabi Haifa – (23 caps, 7 goals)
ST – Eli OHANA — Beitar Jerusalem – (50 caps, 17 goals)

DF – Moshe ALU — Bnei Yehuda Tel Aviv – (2 caps, 0 goals)
for Davidi (42nd min)

ST – Ronny ROSENTHAL — Maccabi Haifa – (60 caps, 11 goals)
for Ohana (62nd min)

MF – Eli COHEN — Hapoel Tel Aviv – (17 caps, 2 goals)
for Turk (62nd min)


GK – Peter SHILTON — FC Southampton – (125 caps)
DF – Gary STEVENS — FC Everton – (46 caps, 0 goals)
DF – Alvin MARTIN — West Ham United – (18 caps, 0 goals)
DF – Terry BUTCHER — Ipswich Town – (77 caps, 3 goals)
DF – Kenny SANSOM — FC Arsenal – (86 caps, 1 goal)
MF – Bryan ROBSON — Manchester United – (90 caps, 26 goals)
MF – Glen HODDLE — Tottenham Hotspur – (53 caps, 8 goals)
MF – Ray WILKINS — AC Milan (Ita) – (83 caps, 3 goals)
MF – Chris WADDLE — Tottenham Hotspur – (62 caps, 6 goals)
ST – Kerry DIXON — FC Chelsea – (8 caps, 4 goals)
ST – Peter BEARDSLEY — Newcastle United – (59 caps, 9 goals)

ST – Tony WOODCOCK — FC Arsenal – (42 caps, 16 goals)
for Dixon (53rd min)

MF – John BARNES — FC Watford – (79 caps, 11 goals)
for Waddle (80th min)

GK – Chris WOODS — Norwich City – (43 caps)
for Shilton (81st min)


England defender TERRY BUTCHER of Ipswich Town and deputy goalkeeper CHRIS WOODS of Norwich City, who came on as a late substitute in the match, both moved north to Scotland to play for Glasgow Rangers following the 1986 FIFA World Cup in Mexico and would be joined the next year by Israel captain AVI COHEN of FC Maccabi Tel Aviv.

Only a four months into the 1987-88 campaign, England midfielder RAY WILKINS decided to forgo his French Ligue 1 adventure with new club Paris St. Germain and signed for Glasgow Rangers in exchange for a transfer fee of 250,000 English pounds.

Of the three Englishmen referenced above who were signed by Glasgow Rangers player-manager GRAEME SOUNESS, however, only Cohen made it onto the field for the wild 1987 Skol League Cup Final with FC Aberdeen.

That match, which went to penalties after extra time and a 3-3 draw, is documented with video highlights and everything here at the blog.


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