(1979 - )
As a 15-year-old, Pini Balili helped Shimshon Tel
Aviv qualify for the third division of soccer with his blistering runs.
He then returned to Hapoel Tel Aviv, the team that first discovered
him, but was not given a fair shot by the then coach Eli Cohen. During
the 2000-01 season, however, Balili excelled and proved himself a shining
example of the new speedy and athletic forward prototype. That year,
Balili scored nine league goals. In the 2001-02 season Balili was energetic
as usual, but managed only five goals overall. Tel Aviv lost the championship
to Maccabi Haifa.
A member of the Israeli national team since 2000 (Balili
scored two goals in three matches that year), Balili has also made an
impact for Israel to qualify for Euro 2004. On October 12, 2002, in
Israel's first match of the round, Balili scored the first goal and
hit the post twice as Israel secured an important 2-0 victory over Malta.
He scored against Malta again on September 9, 2003, but Israel was unable
to qualify for Europe 2004.
In 2002-03 Balili helped Hapoel to a third place fnish
with an eight goal campiagn during the first part of the season. Hapoel
enacted major wage cuts in the off season, however, and Balili signed
with Turkish club Istanbulspor. Balili's Turkish league debut was sensational;
on August 10, 2003, he scored a beautiful chip as his team surprised
city rivals Fenerbache 3-0. As of September 10, 2003, Balili had 2 league
goals for the Turkish club.