The 25-year-old defender joined the club in 2017 from Hapoel Petah Tikva spent loan spells with Hapoel Acco (2018), and Bnei Yehuda (2018-20) before breaking into Maccabi’s first team at the beginning of last season.

On the journey he went, Baltaxa said: “When I signed for Maccabi I knew it will be difficult to break into the first team after coming form a second division side. I knew I had to have some sort of journey. There was uncertainty every summer, as one doesn’t know whether you are staying or going. I experienced 2.5 years of loans and kept on telling myself: ‘Maybe my place is not at Maccabi’, but I still wanted to prove myself as a legitimate top flight player. When I returned at the beginning of last season I said ‘Enough is enough. I am not going on loan anymore as I know my place is here’ Patrick let me play as a central defender and we saw that there is some potential as I knew I will not be going anywhere and instead I will be fighting for my place”.

Baltaxa, whose performances during the season earned him a first ever call-up to the Israel national team, revealed: “Knowing that the call-ups to the national team should come any time soon, I kept going into the office of Yoav Ziv our team manager asking him: ‘Are the call ups out yet? After one of the training sessions he pulled out the paper and showed me that I was in. I walked into the gym, sat there by myself and started crying my eyes. At that moment, Patrick van Leeuwen approached me and said: ‘Well done. Now go and take it a notch further. It’s proof that hard work pays off and you should continue from here”.

Baltaxa, who got married this summer, in an uncharacteristic fashion, at least in terms of a footballer, revealed what went on behind the scenes: “Way before choosing the date, I checked the international schedule and saw when the national are playing just in case I will be called-up and so that I would avoid the chance of missing out. We are both two very humble people and really love our families so we decided that at our wedding will only have people that are very close to us. In every day that passes by, I am delighted with our choice”.