(1980 - )
Yossi Benayoun is an Israeli-born professional soccer player currently on Queens Park Rangers in the English Championship league.
Benayoun (born May 5, 1980) was born in Dimona, Israel, and started his professional soccer career at age 9. He made his professional debut with Hapoel Dimona at the tender age of 11.
By age 14 he had caught the eye of many European scouts, as he led the
Israeli youth team to many sensational victories. A year later he was
recruited to the celebrated Ajax Amsterdam Academy, which has produced
the likes of Patrick Kluivert, Marc Overmars, and Edgar Davids. At Ajax,
Benayoun established an international reputation. In one game for Israel
youth, he scored two goals against England and the London Times proclaimed
him "the most promising youngster in world football alongside Michael
Owen." Ironically, Owen also played in that match, and was completely
upstaged by the Israeli youngster.
Yossi missed Israel desperately, and felt he never
did fit in socially in the Netherlands. He returned to the inferior
Israeli league and later debuted in the top league with Hapoel Ber-Sheva at age 17
during the 1997-98 season.
In a highly publicized transfer, Benayoun moved to
Maccabi Haifa in 1998. That first year, he became the youngest leading scorer in Maccabi
history, scoring 16 goals and producing electrifying form along the
way. During the 1999-2000 season Benayoun scored 19 goals and annihilated
Paris St. Germain with his stunning performances in the European Cup
Winners Cup. It was during this season that Benayoun made his spectacular
debut on the senior national team, scoring four goals in his first two
In the 2000-2001 season, Benayoun led Haifa to their first title in seven years, and picked up "Player
of the Year" honors. In 2001-02 he suffered a leg injury, and though
he was not in top form, Yossi played an important role in a second consecutive
Benayoun scored six goals and made four assists in
the top Spanish league with Racing Santander in the 2002-03 season.
In 2003-04, Yossi was arguably the best player in Racing Santander.
He scored seven league goals in 30 appearances as the Spanish club finished
17th in Primera Liga. Javi Guerrero and Yossi Benayoun's offensive quality
were the major factors behind Santanders survival in the top league.
In July 2005, English Premier League team West Ham United signed Benayoun for 2.5 million pounds and the Israeli star made his debut with the team on the opening day of the 2005-06 season. He scored his first premier league goal on September 12, 2005.
In July 2007, Benayoun moved to Liverpool, signing a four-year, 5 million pound contract. Benayound played for Liverpool through the 2010 season, at which point he was signed by Chelsea. In 2011, Chelsea loaned him to Arsenal, where he appeared in 19 games, and in 2012 he was on loan to West Ham.
In December 2013, Benayound joined the Queens Park Rangers of the English Championship league.
Sources: Jews in