In a half time ceremony at last Saturday's match against Bnei Yehuda, Maccabi Tel Aviv FC  honoured the managers who have served the club throughout the decades. A good opportunity to make their acquaintance

The championship won in the 1978/79 season will forever be remembered as the saddest in the history of Maccabi Tel Aviv FC. After a splendid season under manager Haim Leibowitch, "Leibo" for short, the team arrived in Netanya two matches from the end of the season knowing that one point would suffice to win the championship. 10,000 spectators crowded into Netanya's then standing Sar-Tov Stadium, popularly known as "Hakufsa", hoping to celebrate with defender Avi Cohen and strikers Vicki Peretz and Benny Tabak Maccabi Tel Aviv's tenth league title since the establishment of the State of Israel. After 90 goalless minutes the team had done enough to earn that point and the start sign was given for the championship celebrations. Leibo, who had already earned titles as the club's manager, collapsed in the coach that was taking the team from the stadium back to Tel Aviv and was rushed to Landau hospital in Netanya  where he died a short while later, leaving behind him a deep void in the spirit of the club. The title match, played on the last day of the season against Hapoel Haifa, was won 2-0, but the players remained on the pitch and cried.


Leibo, who took on the managerial role at Maccabi after the departure of Yoska Matsuv, earned the title "The Players' Father", not only for the 19 years (1960-1979) he served as the club's manager but also because of his ability to listen to his players' problems and take care of them. During the 1980's these large shoes were filled by Shmuel "Papo" Yisraeli, Yakov Kestenboim and Yehuda Cohen, the first two having played with the club in the 1950' and 1960's. In 1988 Yaron Oz, who also played on that sad championship night in Netanya, was appointed manager for one season, followed by Avraham Meltzman, who came up through the youth ranks at Maccabi and returned for a second term in the position. In 1991 Shimon Korek, who had served as Youth Team manager for many years, took over the reigns of the senior squad and remained in function for the next twelve years which saw his teams win two championships, one double and three Israel Football Association (IFA) Cups.


The two years between Korek's final season and the start of the term of Maccabi Tel Aviv's current manager Avner Tuitto were filled by Moshe Agayev, who saw his club win Maccabi's last championship in the 2002/03 season. There is insufficient room here for all the stories and anecdotes about all the men that have managed the club from the 1950's onward. And with the exception of Leibo, who held the post far longer than any of the others, it would be quite impossible to praise the qualities of the one at the expense of any of the others. But one thing is clear: The country's greatest and most illustrious football club would never have achieved that status without these same men, who gave of their time, their drive and their energy for good of the club.

Maccabi Tel Aviv Football Club wish to salute these same great and unforgettable managers who will forever be part of the life blood of the club.

Here follows a list of those who participated in the ceremony: Sharon Matsuv (son of the late Yoske Matzuv), Shmuel "Papo" Yisraeli, Arik Cohen (son of the late Yehuda Cohen), Avraham Meltzman, Eli Siman Tov (Youth Team manager), Feli Rabi (Youth Team manager), Dubi Talit (Youth Team manager).