Home is where the heart is for 'fearful' Benayoun

By Simon Griver, June 12, 2014
Follow The JC on Twitter

Yossi Benayoun admits he needed a lot of convincing to return to Israel following a successful career in England.

After helping QPR cement a return to the Premier League via the playoffs, Benayoun, 34, turned down offers to stay in England as well as America to return home after signing a two-year deal worth $1m.

"I was in two minds about coming home to Israel," he said. "I was in talks with new MLS franchise Orlando and had they offered me a two-year contract I would have gone for it.

"I had other offers in Israel, but Haifa always had first refusal."

Benayoun left Haifa in 2002 for a European career with Racing Santander in Spain and then nine years in England from 2005 with West Ham, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and QPR.

He rejoins a Haifa team that finished fifth last season and failed to qualify for Europe, but will be boosted by moving into the newly built 31,000-seat Sammy Ofer Stadium in August.

"I'm really glad to be wearing green again and I believe we will bring back the glory days to Haifa," he said.

"I'm a bit fearful about playing in Israel again, but I've really missed the Haifa fans and I'm sure it'll work out fine."

Haifa has also offered Benayoun a coaching role when he decides to hang up his boots and the club are also in talks with Standard Liege defender and former Premier League star Tal Ben Haim.

    Last updated: 6:42pm, June 13 2014