Atar, Reuven : Jews In Sports @ Virtual Museum

Atar, Reuven

Atar appeared in 32 games and scored three goals for the Israeli National team between 1989-1997. He retired from play in March, 2003, due to a crippling knee injury.

On February 22, 2004, Atar was appointed head coach of Maccabi Netanya after two years as an assistant at the club.

Birth and Death Dates:
b. Jan. 3, 1969

Career Highlights:
Atar was a star player as a youngster and was promoted to the the senior Maccabi Haifa team while still in his teens. At the age of 20, Reuven helped his club win the championship and scored in the cup final. In the 1990-91 season Haifa featured the homegrown talents of Atar, an 18-year-old Eyal Berkovic and Tal Banin. They won Haifa's first ever league and Cup "double" that year.

The 1992-93 season saw Atar score ten league goals and win the Cup. That Cup win would provide the base for one of the great Israeli sporting acheivements of all time. Haifa annihilated Luxemburg's Dodelange in the now defunct European Cup Winners Cup and were drawn to face Russian powerhouse club Torpedo Moscow. They shocked Europe by eliminating the Soviets, and then faced Parma, a huge Italian club featuring superstars like Thomas Brolin and Faustino Asprilla. Haifa beat Parma in Italy but were eliminated from the competition on penalties.

That same year, Atar made headlines all over the world with an unforgettable goal. Israel was wrapping up an unremarkable World Cup qualifying campaign. France on the other hand looked destined to appear in US '94, and needed only one point from their two final games. In Paris with the score at 2-2, two minutes into overtime: Ronny Rosenthal cut through the French defense and passed to Atar who launched a rocket in midair into the net. Israel had beaten the French. France would miss that World Cup allowing Bulgaria to clinch the spot instead.

In 1994, Atar moved to city rivals Hapoel Haifa. He enjoyed a remarkable season in 1995-96, scoring 21 goals and making many assists. Over the next few years Reuven played for Betar Jerusalem and Hapoel Petah Tikva but never returned to his best form as he developed a serious injury that required repeated surgical attention.

Reuven returned home to Maccabi Haifa and was a useful squad player in their 2000-01 and 2001-02 championship seasons. In an unsentimental move he was released by Haifa in the summer of 2002 with a year to go on his contract. At the start of the 2002-03 season Atar signed a one-year contract with Maccabi Netanya and proved himself their best player during the season. Midway through the year he led the side in goals with six and in assists with nine. However, the brilliant midfielder shattered his knee and was forced to retire in March, 2003.

Atar was promoted from assistant coach to head coach during the 2003-04 season, as Gili Landau was fired. The team was well under the red line at the time and the former playmaker was unable to save the sinking ship. Netanya finished 11th out of 12, four points under the red line. The management has confirmed that Atar will remain coach in the second division. He faces an uphill struggle, as all of Maccabi's best players have been auctioned off to the highest bidder.

Haifa, Israel

Career Dates:
Player: 1986-2003

Playmaker or Midfielder

Career Statistics:
115 goals in 400 league appearances.

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