Israel midfielder Lior Refaelov is missing the sun but not missing the target at Club Brugge KV, the 28-year-old saying: "Life here in Belgium is fantastic in every way."
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Having scored his first European hat-trick last time out, Lior Refaelov could be the man to lead Club Brugge KV to the round of 32 as they take on main Group B rivals Torino FC.
The 28-year-old Israeli international struck three times before the break in his side's 4-0 success at FC København on matchday four, and team-mate Víctor Vázquez was certainly impressed, saying: "We knew he was good, but scoring three times in the Europa League is not something you do every day. And they all were fantastic goals as well."
Refaelov was no less excited. "Which goal was the nicest one?" he said as he looked back on his strikes in the seventh, 30th and 36th minutes. "The second goal was a real team goal – one of the moves we work on in training – but the third one was very nice too. I had little bit of time so I decided in a flash to try to take it with the outside of my foot."
Fans in Belgium know that when it comes to finishing, 'Rafa' can pick and choose. Equally adept with his left and right foot, he has excellent technique, is very quick and has good positional sense. His ability to make decisive contributions from midfield or out on the wing were key factors as he followed in Ronny Rosenthal's footsteps, becoming Club Brugge's second Israeli signing in 2011, having won three national titles – and the 2011 national player of the year award – with Maccabi Haifa FC.
In his own modest way, he has already made a permanent mark in the Club Brugge history books as one of nine players to have scored European hat-tricks for the club along with Rob Rensenbrink (v Újpest FC, Inter-Cities Fairs Cup 1969), Raoul Lambert (v Floriana FC and FC Basel 1893, both 1973), René Vandereycken (v Olympique Lyonnais, 1975), Jean-Pierre Papin (v Boavista FC, 1985), Léo Van Der Elst (v Borussia Dortmund, 1987), Lorenzo Staelens (v ND Gorica, 1997), Kenneth Brylle Larson (four goals v FC Zenit, 1987) and Sandy Martens (FC CSKA Kyiv, 2001).
However, there is hope that he could yet leave a more long-lasting mark; Michel Preud'homme's side are top of the Belgian league, while a win in Turin will put them in the UEFA Europa League round of 32 as well.
Refaelov, meanwhile, is enjoying life at his club, inclement weather notwithstanding. "Life here in Belgium is fantastic in every way," he said. "Bruges is an extremely beautiful city and the restaurants are excellent. The only thing we miss is the sun, escpecially in the winter months. Training and playing football in the snow was a great adventure for me. Crazy!"
Fans can only hope that bigger adventures are to come, and that 'Rafa' might end the season with an even more exciting memento than a signed match ball from Copenhagen.