Spiegler, probably the greatest soccer player in Israeli history, was a member of the Israeli team that reached the quarterfinals and finished fifth at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics. A versatile attacker, he played both forward and midfielder in the Olympic tournament. In the preliminary round, Israel soundly defeated Ghana 5-3 and El Salvador 3-1 (Spiegler scored a goal in the El Salvador game), but the team lost to Hungary, 2-0. The four points Israel accumulated in the round, however, were enough to advance them to the quarterfinals. In that round, they faced Bulgaria and played them to a 1-1 tie. On the basis of a coin toss to the determine the winner, however, Bulgaria advanced to the semifinals and eventually won the silver medal.
Spiegler has more international appearances (79) and has scored more national team goals (26) than any other Israeli in history. He led the Israeli team to the quarterfinals of the 1968 Olympics, and he is the only Israeli to score a goal in World Cup competition, in a 1970 match versus Sweden. The game ended in a 1-1 draw, and was the only time in Israel's history that they reached the final stage of the World Cup. Spigler played professionally in France in the mid-1970s before playing for the New York Cosmos of the North American Soccer League in 1975.
Spiegler retired in 1977 and later coached Maccabi Haifa, Hapoel Haifa, and Betar Tel Aviv. In 1981, Betar convinced him to come out of retirement and he played the final 14 games of the season for the club. He retired again and returned to coaching. In 1998, the Israeli newspapers Ma'ariv and Yediot Aharonot named Spiegler the outstanding soccer player in the nation's history. He called this recognition: "the happiest and greatest of my career."
Birth and Death Dates:
b. Aug. 19, 1944
Azbest, the former Soviet Union
Use links below to navigate through the olympics section of Jews In Sports.
Great Jews in Sports by Robert Slater (New York: Jonathan David Publishers, 2000)