Israel is mourning the death of legendary goalkeeper Ya'akov Hodorov, who died this week at the age of 79 having suffered a stroke last year.
Hodorov won 31 Israeli caps from the birth of the nation in 1948 until 1964. In 1957 he was named as one of the world's top five goalkeepers following a superb performance in the FIFA World Cup qualifying play-off against Wales in Cardiff, where he kept the score down to 2-0 despite a broken nose and dislocated shoulder. He is also remembered for his displays in a narrow 2-1 1956 Olympic qualifying defeat by the Soviet Union, the eventual gold medallists, and Israel's victory against Yugoslavia by the same score four years later.
He began his playing career in his home town of Rishon Lezion on the southern outskirts of Tel-Aviv where he was born in 1927 but rose to stardom at neighbouring Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC, winning the league in 1957 and State Cup three years later. A move to second division Hapoel Ramat Gan FC resulted in immediate promotion in 1963 and a second league title the following season, a year before he retired aged 38.
Israel Football Association chairman Itzhak Iche Menahem, who played alongside Hodorov for Hapoel Tel-Aviv, said: "Hodorov was a giant and I was honoured to play alongside him and win both the championship and cup with him. People always spoke of him as a legend and he really was one. For me, he was the greatest Israeli goalkeeper of all time."
Awarded the Israel Prize - the nation's highest honour - in 2006, Hodorov said: "A winner is someone who will fight to win, even if he is playing in a game with friends or in training. When I was the national team goalkeeper, I knew that the spectators had come not only to see me, but also to see us win the game and that's why I felt as if I was sent out there by the crowd."
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