The Jerusalem Post

Vicky Peretz was special, both on and off the soccer pitch


Yitzhak “Vicky” Peretz, one of Israel’s all-time soccer greats tragically passed away this week, leaving the country’s sports world in shock. The 68-year old former star was a living legend who was not only a fabulous soccer player who performed at the highest of levels in Israel as well as abroad and for the national team, but he was also a good soul who was always looking to help those around him, especially the youth as well as new immigrants to the country.

Born in Kfar Saba in 1953, Peretz began his career in the Maccabi Ramat Amidar youth department and eventually the first team and also participat­ed in the 1972 Asian Football Confederat­ion (AFC) Youth Tournament. Under the direction of coach David Schweitzer, the blue-and-white won the competitio­n thanks to 12 goals by the rising star who had been toiling domestical­ly in the second division. This performanc­e helped jump start the legendary striker’s relationsh­ip with Maccabi Tel Aviv at the tender age of 20.

Peretz had to wait until the 1976/77 season for his first title with Maccabi, which ended up being two in one campaign as the club captured both the league championsh­ip and the State Cup. The contributi­on of the lethal forward was significan­t in both competitio­ns as he scored 17 goals in league play and another five in Cup matches, including an unforgetta­ble foursome in the semifinal against Maccabi Netanya. Those 17 league goals ended a picture-perfect season for Peretz as he was also the league’s leading goal scorer.

A year earlier, in 1976, Peretz had already shown signs of his scoring potential as a member of the Israel national team that participat­ed at the Montreal Olympics (the last major tournament that the blue-and-white qualified for up until today). He scored in the 1-1 draw against France and in a 4-1 loss to a great Brazilian side, but the results failed to get his side past the group stage. In all, Peretz

scored 14 goals in 40 appearance­s for the national team, including a hat-trick in a 4-1 friendly victory over Greece.

Back at home with Maccabi during the 1978/79 campaign, Peretz continued to terrorize opposing goalkeeper­s and helped the club to his second league title with 17 goals across all competitio­ns.

The intimidati­ng striker caught the attention of clubs abroad and in 1980 he signed for French side RC Strasbourg, where he spent two seasons. He then moved on to Stade Rennais FC before returning to Maccabi in 1983/84 for two more seasons. He finished his career at Shimshon Tel Aviv, but not before accumulati­ng an impressive 177 goals in almost 450 appearance­s.

Minister of Culture and Sports Hili Tropper spoke about Peretz’s contributi­on to the country after his passing.

“Vicky Peretz was one of the most special people in Israeli sports. He was a talented player who also represente­d the Israel National Team. Vicky was known as someone who was always willing to lend a hand and help others.”

As for helping others, Peretz was always involved with the nation’s youth developmen­t and could be found speaking at events around the country. Whether it was for a local kibbutz soccer league or to Nefesh B’Nefesh youth groups, Vicky was always there speaking from his heart about the nation and people that he loved.

Peretz also worked at the Maccabi Tel Aviv FC Academy over the past few years influencin­g many of the club’s rising stars. Maccabi’s CEO, Sharon Tammam, said: “The Maccabi Tel Aviv family, the owner Mitch Goldhar, the club’s management, the players, Youth Academy coaches and staff employees are deeply saddened following the sudden tragic death of the former player, Vicky Peretz. We were all stunned to learn of the sudden death of someone who was one of the club’s icons. One of the greatest players Maccabi Tel Aviv had known, with a glorious career both in Israel and abroad. We would all like to extend our sympathies and condolence­s to Omer and the rest of the family at this extremely difficult time.”

Israel Football Associatio­n Chairman Oren Hasson also spoke about Peretz’s immeasurab­le contributi­on. “

Vicky was one of the greatest symbols of [Israeli] soccer. He was a gifted player and coach as well as a role model for many generation­s of fans, players and lovers of the game. Vicky was always ready to help in any of the associatio­n’s projects and wore the country’s colors as a player and coach with pride. His smile will be missed by all.”

There is no question that the entire nation will miss Vicky Peretz and his contributi­ons to the game, both on and off of the field of play, and those that knew him well will always remember his eagerness to help and aid anyone in their time of need. The impression­s that Peretz has left on this generation’s youth was significan­t in that it will be part of them for the rest of their lives.

 ?? (Joshua Halickman) ?? VICKY PERETZ, who died this week at 68, always made time after he retired to speak with fans and share his soccer stories and wisdom.
(Joshua Halickman) VICKY PERETZ, who died this week at 68, always made time after he retired to speak with fans and share his soccer stories and wisdom.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Israel