Sa­har hopes to sol­dier on at Chelsea

The Jewish Chronicle - - Sport - BY DANNY CARO AND SI­MON GRIVER

Shab­bat be­gins (and ends):

FOOT­BALL CHELSEA won­derkid Ben Sa­har has re­ceived sup­port from Is­raeli MP Haim Katz in his bid to avoid mil­i­tary ser­vice with the Is­raeli Defence Force (IDF) and con­tinue play­ing for the Premiership cham­pi­ons.

The 17-year-old marks­man, who has scored four goals in five games for the academy team and is a reg­u­lar in the re­serves, re­ceived his mil­i­tary draft last week, but is hop­ing for a change in the law which would en­able him to avoid the three-year ser­vice pe­riod.

He has been tipped to make the bench for to­mor­row’s FA Cup clash against League 2 strug­glers Mac­cles­field Town.

Sur­rey-based Sa­har – who re­turned from Is­rael on Mon­day fol­low­ing a train­ing camp with the na­tional un­der21s – un­der­went a med­i­cal at the Tel Ha­somer in­duc­tion base and re­quested to carry out his na­tional duty at the Is­raeli Em­bassy in Lon­don.

Ac­cord­ing to Is­raeli law, na­tional ser­vice can be de­layed for up to a year. How­ever, go­ing back to Is­rael would mean a prob­a­ble re­turn to for­mer club Hapoel Tel Aviv and a missed op­por­tu­nity to play in the Premiership.

A mem­ber of the Likud party, Katz is propos­ing a “Ben Sa­har bill” which would see the player un­der­take a fast­tracked term with min­i­mal phys­i­cal risk and en­sure the over­seas ca­reers of na­tional team play­ers are not dam­aged.

“There is no doubt that this change will con­trib­ute to the qual­ity of our na­tional teams,” says Katz . “It’s not an easy pro­ce­dure, but a pro­mo­tional ser­vice for our ath­letes abroad would not only ben­e­fit the player and the na­tional team, but the coun­try it­self.”

Chelsea star­let Ben Sa­har hopes to con­tinue his rapid rise up the foot­ball lad­der with a lit­tle help from his friends

A client of su­per-agent Pini Za­havi, Sa­har – who trained with the first team last month and has been com­pared to Eng­land’s latest boy won­der Theo Wal­cott – would wel­come the chance to serve in Lon­don. “I would love to do my na­tional ser­vice in Lon­don,” he told Is­raeli re­porters, “but the mat­ter is in the hands of the army.”

Sa­har’s mother, Ba­tia, also hopes the law will be passed as “my son is bet­ter equipped to make an im­pact as an am­bas­sador rather than a solider. Ben is an ac­tive mem­ber of the Jewish com­mu­nity in Lon­don and I have no doubt his work will be of greater ben­e­fit than some army job.”

A source close to the player told JC Sport: “Sa­har en­joys his some­what anony­mous sta­tus in Eng­land as he is treated like a star in Is­rael. He is hope­ful that the pro­posed bill will go through.”

Chelsea, the Is­raeli Em­bassy and the IDF de­clined to com­ment.

BEN SA­HAR IN BRIEF Date of birth: Au­gust 10, 1989 Born: Holon, Is­rael Pre­vi­ous club: Hapoel Tel Aviv Trans­fer: Joined Chelsea in May 2006 for £320,000 af­ter be­ing spot­ted play­ing for Is­rael’s un­der16 team at the Milk Cup Youth tour­na­ment in Ire­land in 2004

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