Argentinian-Israeli soccer star powers team to premier A league

Marcy Oster

BUENOS AIRES (JTA) — An Argentinian-Israeli soccer star on Sunday led the Argentinian team “Talleres” to a championship and a promotion from the national B Division to the premier A league

Eial Strahman, 26, who formerly played for the Israeli Maccabi Haifa team, is now being called “Strahman the super hero” by local media for the unbeaten tournament campaign.

Strahman began playing soccer in Macabi Noar, a Jewish community club in Cordoba province, 430 miles north of the capital of Buenos Aires. He represented Argentina in the 2005 Maccabiah Games in Israel, losing the final against Israel.  In 2009, he was called to represent Israel in the under 21 team in a European qualifier but his club, River Plate, refused to release him.

After an international career which includes Maccabi Haifa in 2009-2010, Strahman returned to his native Cordoba province, to play for Talleres in 2015.

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Strahman helped the team return to the First Division during the ongoing championship with five goals and represented the club by making the opening speech at the club members’ general assembly. The club invited a rabbi to lead religious prayers when the team was pursuing the promotion to the top league this year.

Strahman’s father, Julio, lived in Israel from 1975 to 1985. The player often speaks about his Judaism and has a tattoo in Hebrew in his back with the initial letters of the names of his four brothers, Nir, Mijal, Tomer and Lucia.  Interviewed by local television shows in which fans send in questions, he recently was asked “do you know how to dance to Hava Nagilla?”

Strahman has never played for the Argentina or Israel national teams, which he has indicated a desire to do.  In 2009, Strahman told a Jewish newspaper: “I look forward to a future opportunity to play for Israel.”

Separately, Argentinean Coach Jose Pekerman, who is Jewish, led the Colombia national team to a victory over the United States by a score of 2 to 0 in the opening game of the Copa America tournament currently being held in Santa Clara California.

Pekerman was born in Villa Dominguez, one of the main centers of Jewish immigration to Argentina. His grandparents came from Ukraine. Pekerman lived in the Buenos Aires Jewish neighborhood of Villa Crespo until he took over as Colombia’s coach in January 2012.

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