With Maccabi Tel Aviv returning to the group stage after an 11-year absence, UEFA.com revisits the players that Nir Klinger led through qualifying in 2004.
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Maccabi Tel Aviv are in the UEFA Champions League group stage for only the second time and bidding to better their 2004/05 predecessors. Nir Klinger's side finished bottom of their section, yet the team – featuring five academy graduates – secured a famous home win over Ajax and a 1-1 draw with Juventus.
1. John Pantsil
The quick, versatile Ghanaian right-back left Maccabi for arch-rivals Hapoel Tel Aviv at the end of the 2004/05 group stage and this proved a springboard to bigger things. He went on to England, playing for West Ham and Fulham, with whom he reached the 2009/10 UEFA Europa League final. Now in South Africa with Maritzburg United.
2. Erez Mesika
The powerful midfielder possessed a great shot from distance and enjoyed the best years of his career at Maccabi Tel Aviv, whom he represented from 2003–08. Spent a season in Cyprus with AEK Larnaca but was forced to retire aged 30 due to a heart problem.
3. Salem Abo Siam
A graduate of the Maccabi Tel Aviv youth system, left-back Abo Siam was in the first-team ranks by the age of 18, before departing for neighbours Bnei Yehuda Tel Aviv in 2006. Now 32, he captains home-town team Bnei Lod in the Israeli second flight.
4. Márcio Giovanini
The tall Brazilian central defender had just one season with Maccabi Tel Aviv, though he later returned to Israel after spells in Belgium and Portugal. A citizen of the world whose subsequent adventures have taken him to Greece, Iran and Vietnam.
5. Avi Strool
The centre-back had two stints at Maccabi Tel Aviv, also trying his luck abroad in Belgium, representing Lokeren from 2008–10. At the age of 34, he is still a regular for Hapoel Rishon LeZion in the Israeli second division.
6. Ishmael Addo
The speedy Ghanaian forward was on the books of Accra-based Hearts of Oak for the bulk of his career, loan stays at Bastia, Maccabi Netanya, Maccabi Tel Aviv, Ergotelis and Enosis Neon Paralimni representing the entirety of his European career. His Maccabi interlude was not celebrated: he scored just twice for the club – once in UEFA Champions League qualifying and once in the domestic league.
7. Baruch Dego
Dego scored all four of Maccabi Tel Aviv's 2004/05 group stage goals, yet had a complicated relationship with the club's fans. He moved on to neighbours Hapoel Tel Aviv in winter 2005. Having plied his trade in Cyprus for a while, the 34-year-old remains active in the second division with Hapoel Ashkelon.
8. Liran Strauber
The skinny goalkeeper, well known for his athleticism, retired in 2012 having played almost 500 games in the Israeli Premier League. He famously went unbeaten for nine league matches – totalling 783 minutes – during the 2007/08 campaign at Maccabi Netanya.
9. Moshe Mishaelof
A defensive midfield regular in the UEFA Champions League group stage campaign, Mishaelof was another academy graduate. He had two seasons as the club's captain, finally seeking pastures new with a switch to Cyprus in 2009. Now a central defender with Hapoel Akko.
10. Tamir Cohen
The son of former Maccabi Tel Aviv and Liverpool centre-half Avi Cohen, Tamir Cohen also sought success in England after his time with Maccabi Tel Aviv and Maccabi Netanya, representing Bolton Wanderers from 2008–11. Currently without a club.
11. Liran Cohen
An Under-21 international during that group stage, the slender attacking midfielder with silky skills was another youth-team graduate. He left the club 2006 and played in Poland for a season with Podbeskidzie Bielsko-Biała, yet is now back in Israel as a holding midfielder with second division Hapoel Ramat Gan.
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