Maccabi Great Britain made history by becoming the first British team to win a men’s Open football tournament.
A management team of Gavin Stollar and Alex Gilbert selected a relatively young group of players from the JC MSFL and one from South Manchester Maccabi, who were hungry to learn and succeed on the international stage.
Before leaving for Madrid, the team consulted England coach Fabio Capello and Croatia manager Slaven Bilic in a chance meeting at the airport.
The opening game against two-times holders and tournament
favourites Germany was a goalless affair, with few clear-cut chances for either side. Goalkeeper and captain Matt Davis was outstanding and the back four of David Ossack, Adam Hakimi, Ben Harris and Gilbert remained faultless throughout.
Danny Hakimi and Adam Levine pulled the midfield strings, whilst Dan Levenfiche looked to be the only player capable of penetrating the German back-line.
Just a few hours later GB took the field against Spain.
The hosts featured Brian Estiz and Kyle Bentwood of London Lions and Manchester Maccabi respectively. Britain dominated the first half and scored the opening goal through a penalty by Ossack after Dan Levenfiche was sent tumbling in the penalty box.
Spain equalised on 60 minutes with a superbly taken free-kick but GB finished strongly with Gilbert setting up David Dinkin to make it 2-1. Josh Morris added two further goals.
With the field expecting a Germany win against Spain, all the talk was of goal difference, but manager Stollar kept the game-plan simple and effective.
GB were dominant throughout against a poor Russian team and Gavin Factor opened the scoring with a powerful header at the back post. Dinkin scored a 30-yard volley with Levenfiche, Fogelman and Levine each grabbing a brace in an 8-0 success, leaving the team two points clear of the field and clinch the trophy.
Great Britain head coach Gavin Stollar commented: “Victory at this tournament was a watershed for Great Britain and is the benchmark upon which all others will now be measured.
“From the results and team spirit to the regard, which everyone associated with the delegation was held by our fellow competitors, it was a pleasure managing such a committed and talented bunch of players.
“Eyebrows were raised very early on at the lack of so-called ‘names’ that our squad included but my faith was entirely repaid as we made history in Madrid.”
Player-coach Alex Gilbert said: “It is hard to over-emphasise just how strong the morale created was, in such a very short space of time. The team played as if they had been together for years and a number of players will have realised just how good they are, or have the potential to be.”
Maccabi GB: Matt Davis, Ben Harris, Elliot Espinoza, Adam Hakimi, David Ossack, Adam Levine, Danny Hakimi, Gavin Factor, Josh Morris, Daniel Levenfiche, David Dinkin, Richard Fogelman, Daniel Gordon, Alex Gilbert (player-coach), Gavin Stollar (manager)
Maccabi GB’s Masters took bronze in the futsal competition in Spain. Managed by Daniel Collins, the team claimed victories over Portugal and Russia, countered by narrow defeats against Germany and the eventual champions Spain.
Mark Herman was the matchwinner against Germany before David Hyman and Scott Ansher netted in a 2-1 success over Portugal. Collins said: “There were some big performances and I feel we have sent a strong message out to the whole of Europe.”
GB Masters: Gary Brunen, Andrew Lipton, Daniel Collins, Mark Herman, Scott Ansher, David Hyman, Jonathon Cohen, Eric Elbaz