Fight to release the monster

By Simon Griver, May 27, 2009

Israel FA officials have failed in their bid to recruit one of the world’s most promising Jewish footballers, 19-year-old Argentinian striker Eial Strahman.

River Plate have refused to release Strahman to represent Israel in the Euro 2011 under-21 qualifier away to Bulgaria on June 10.

Strahman joined River Plate from Velez Sarsfield in April for $2 million — a huge fee by Latin American standards — with Velez entitled to 40 per cent of any future transfer fee to a European club.

Affectionately known as “The Monster” because of his aggressive style, Strahman has yet to make his River Plate debut, although he has made the bench and has scored eight goals in five reserve games.

Strahman had also scored 42 goals in 50 games for Velez’s youth team.

But River Plate told the Israel FA that he will be playing in their first team in June.

Strahman, who represented Argentina in the 2005 Maccabiah, has been ambiguous about his international plans. “I look forward to a future opportunity to play for Israel,” he said last week. But he has previously suggested that he would take his time over a decision, saying: “I think I am good enough to play for Argentina one day.”

He is the son of Julio Strahman who lived in Israel from 1975 to 1985 before returning home to manage the family business in Cordoba.

Strahman junior may have doubts about representing Israel but his father is clear where his loyalties lie, declaring: “I have brought up my children to see Israel as their future home.”

Last updated: 3:38pm, May 27 2009