Sahar hopes to soldier on at Chelsea
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