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FC Girondins de Bordeaux's visit to the Ramat Gan Stadium for Maccabi Haifa FC's last UEFA Champions League Group A fixture will represent the final fling in the illustrious career of defender Alon Harazi.
It is to be the 38-year-old's last match before he takes on a scouting role for the Ligat Ha'Al leaders, ending a playing association with the club which began in 1990. The encounter with the French titleholders will be Harazi's first outing of the group stage and extend his Israeli record of appearances in UEFA club competitions to 66.
A ten-minute cameo in the 1-0 victory over Bnei Sakhnin FC at Kiryat Eliezer on Saturday brought down the curtain on a 19-year career in the Israeli top-flight which has yielded 526 appearances – the highest amassed by an outfield player. One of the most decorated professionals in his nation's history, Harazi has won nine titles – eight with Haifa – as well as three State Cups and five League Cups.
Of his late appearance as a replacement for Vladimer Dvalishvili in Haifa's eleventh win in 12 league games this term, Harazi said: "It was very exciting to play for the final time at Kiryat Eliezer, especially in a forward position. I started my career as a striker and ended it as striker which was like coming full circle, but every good thing must end some time and I'm leaving the stage to a younger generation."
Harazi joined Haifa as an 18-year-old from Hakoah Ramat Gan FC and spent the remainder of his career at the club, save for a spell with Beitar Jerusalem FC in 1997-98 when he won the other of his nine league titles. Haifa owner Jacob Schahar said: "I'm delighted Harazi accepted our offer to build a scouting department at the club.
We always needed an experienced player and person of his calibre at the club and this European match is the right time to bid farewell and thank him for his services."
That game will offer Haifa a last chance to register their first points and to try and avoid becoming only the second club after RC Deportivo La Coruña in 2004/05 to go through the group stage without scoring. It will be no easy feat against the Group A winners, but Harazi got the better of Bordeaux coach Laurent Blanc once before as a member of the Israel team which defeated France 3-2 in FIFA World Cup qualifying in 1993.
A winner of 89 caps for Israel, Harazi has featured just three times in the Ligat Ha'Al this term as his playing days wound down. However, while one Harazi career is set to conclude, another could soon be in the offing with eldest son Ofek a member of the club's under-13 team.
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