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Home is where the heart is for 'fearful' Benayoun

    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.

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