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Igal Antebi

(1974 - )

Igal Antebi, an efficient defender, has been an integral part of the formidable Hapoel Tel Aviv defense since the Israel League and Israel Cup "double" season of 1999-2000. Igal recently made history by becoming the first Jewish soccer player to make the Israeli national team without serving in the army. In the past, such players were not called up for international duty.

Though Antebi came up through the Maccabi Tel Aviv system, he made his professional debut with Maccabi Herzelyia since he could not compete with rising stars Amir Shelah and Gadi Brumer for a starting position in his parent club. Antebi made little impact in Herzelyia during the 1993-94 and 1994-95 seasons and soon found himself at second division Hakoah Ramat Gan. In 1995-96, Igal spent a year in the ranks of Nes Tziona, but then returned to Herzelyia and helped them avoid the relegation drop during the 1996-97 campaign.

The following year was a breakthrough for Antebi as he established himself as a starter, scored three league goals, and functioned as a formidable defensive barrier. His team exceeded all expectations by finishing eigth thanks to Antebi and the silky skills of Vassili Ivanov. In 1998-99, the speedy wing back was even more effective. Igal scored four goals and made three assists and became the most important player in Maccabi Herzelyia's formation.

When coach Dror Kashtan took over the reigns at Hapoel Tel Aviv prior to the 1999-2000 season, he snapped up Igal in his bid to shore up the team's defensive fortifications. Alongside Ilan Bachar and Shimon Gershon, Antebi marshalled the Reds' defense to a superlative season. They won the Israel League and Israel Cup "double," while conceding a mere 28 goals in 39 games.

In 2000-01 Antebi's Hapoel finished in second place in the Israel League, seven points behind Maccabi Haifa, with a competent but uninspiring team. The 2001-02 season held exciting challenges for the defender. Hapoel reached the UEFA Cup quarterfinal, beating Chelsea, Parma and Lokomotiv Moscow before A.C Milan knocked the Israeli warriors out of the competition. Hapoel finished second to Haifa in the Israel League again that year.

In 2002-03, Antebi was part of the excellent Hapoel Tel Aviv defense that conceded the least league goals and registered two assists as well. However, the Reds' attack was not up to par and Hapoel finished third.

Source: Jews in Sports