Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Unlikely Lads Are Relishing Their Time in Euro Spotlight; Heroes: Omer Golan Scores Israel's Dramatic Winner (Top Left) and Is Mobbed by Team-Mates (above); Ben Sahar Played His Part with a Battling Display (Left) to Leave Russian Boss Guus Hiddink Down and out (below Left)

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Unlikely Lads Are Relishing Their Time in Euro Spotlight; Heroes: Omer Golan Scores Israel's Dramatic Winner (Top Left) and Is Mobbed by Team-Mates (above); Ben Sahar Played His Part with a Battling Display (Left) to Leave Russian Boss Guus Hiddink Down and out (below Left)

Article excerpt

Byline: IAN CHADBAND

Impressive BATIA SAHAR leant over the players' tunnel barrier at theRamat Gan Stadium, wrapped up in the Star of David and just dying to give herboy a hug. "Ben was giving his life to win out there," she said, sounding alittle choked with emotion. "I'm proud of him. I'm proud of them all. All theplayers made it a great evening for Israel.

And England is grateful too, no?" She had no idea quite how much. A few yardsaway, in between the tunnel and the VIP dining tent populated by more moroseRussian oligarchs than you could bung a vat of beluga caviar at, the Israelcoach Dror Kashtan had just been telling his English visitors they had no needto say sorry nor thank you.

Yet it didn't feel that way. Apologies and gratitude were absolutely in orderafter a week in which the courage, will and integrity of Israel's teamand by association, a nation appeared to be

Impressive McLeish questioned and challenged at every turn for the sake of meremischief-making rather than from any honest belief in a stitch-up.

Israel's magnanimity felt humbling enough but England's unlikely new heroes,who had persevered until the 92nd minute to win a game when they were flaggingphysically and being passed to death by Russia, were all too exultant to holdgrudges.

All, that is, except for the new 'King of England', Omer Golan, who, blessedly,happened to be harbouring one against "arrogant" Russians.

"It made me angry when I heard before the match that one of the Russians said

McLeish could they would beat us even if we had 13 players," Golan told meafter the game. "To us, that was an insult." Perhaps then, we should actuallyhave been raising a glass to Russian sub Aleksandr Kerzakhov, author of saidcomment.

For it left Golan's indignation still burning even when Russia, having just hitthe post through Dmitri Sychev, could surely be the only winners.

Wrong; Golan chased one final lost cause, making the chance with a greatsliding tackle and then could now finishing with one sure touch.

Instant English worship and a world of utter daftness was suddenly all his.

"It feels a bit weird," he said last night after 24 hours of this bizarrelove-in had culminated in a comically stilted live satellite link-up.

That was between Fred Done, the millionaire bookie whose promise of a [pounds sterling]50,000Mercedes for Golan was ruled illegal by the Israel FA, and Golan, who wastrying vainly to understand a word of head south Fred's broad Mancunian accent.What was rather less amusing to Golan in his moment of glory was the reactionof some in the Israeli media who reckon he's never really been much more than ajourneyman striker and only got his place in the national team under AvramGrant in the first place because the country's FA president Avi Luzon has closelinks with his club Maccabi Petah Tikva. …

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