Kestenbaum up for his national service

Manager leaves Hendon United to concentrate on Maccabiah Games

By Danny Caro, October 30, 2008

Hendon United A manager Jonathan Kestenbaum has stepped down to concentrate on responsibilities as manager of the Great Britain Maccabiah open squad.

The move follows lengthy discussions with the Maccabiah football convenor Darryl Lee and the chairman David Pinnick.

One of the most highly respect and successful managers in the Jewish game, Kestenbaum said: "The Maccabiah Organising Committee have encouraged me to make this decision on the basis that the Games only comes round once every four years and needs total focus.

"It was a very difficult decision. But looking at the squad we have assembled for GB when we met last Sunday, I was struck by its composition. Seventeen of the players are either pros, ex-pros or high semi-pros. I will be making considerable demands of them and they have every right to expect that the manager will be making similar demands of himself in terms of time.

"For me personally it's a wrench [to leave Hendon], but to manage the GB side in the Maccabiah is a rare privilege and I have been persuaded that the right thing is to give it total focus."

Maccabiah football convenor Darryl Lee said: "Managing the Maccabiah football squad is a massive task. It's the blue riband event and needs 100 per cent focus. The decision to leave Hendon was Jonathan's alone. We completely agree with his decision and he has our full support and confidence. It's Hendon's loss but he's left them in pretty good shape."

Kestenbaum, who told his players at training on Tuesday, bowed out on a high with a 2-1 win over Bafana Bafana. Before last season, he steered the team to back-to-back titles, including the JC MSFL Premier Division at the first attempt.

He also won Maccabi League manager of the year in 2007 and last season helped them finish runners-up in the league and Peter Morrison Trophy, and reach the semi-finals of the JC League Cup.

Benji Wreschner will step up from assistant-manager to take the manager's job at Hendon. "I'm extremely excited to take on the role and am looking forward to the challenges ahead," he said.

"I want to thank Jonathan. He enthused the team with great passion, dedication and skill and managed us through a period of fantastic success. We are upset that he has left, but wish him best of luck with the Maccabiah."

Hendon chairman Marc Lewis said: "We thank Jonathan for his contribution to the team's success and the time he put into making his team one of the most respected in the Premier Division."

The JC understands Kestenbaum will lead the Maccabi League rep team for its London Inter-League campaign. He will announce his final 18-man GB squad in the new year.

Last updated: 3:04pm, October 30 2008