Nimni, Avi : Jews In Sports @ Virtual Museum

Nimni, Avi

Aviyahu Nimni

A left-sided midfielder, Nimni has a dribbling style which makes stripping the ball from his leg an impossibility. Part of the 1990s "Golden Generation" of Israeli soccer and one of Maccabi Tel Aviv's greatest all-time players, and all-time leading scorer, Nimni is a lethal free-kick specialist with good creative abilities. He has been a member of the Israeli National team for the past decade. His uncle Meir Nimni was also a Maccabi legend.

Birth and Death Dates:
b. April 26, 1972

Career Highlights:
A product of the Maccabi Tel Aviv club, Nimni began his career with the senior side in 1990 and made immediate impact as a rookie. Two seasons later, he came into his own as the club captured the Israel League championship. Over the next few seasons, Nimni formed a venomous midfield partnership with Itzhik Zohar and contributed a great deal to the 1994 State Cup win and the 1995 league title (during that impressive season Nimni scored 12 league goals). The 1995-96 season was paritcularly memorable for Maccabi Tel Aviv as they won the league and Cup "double." Nimni scored 10 goals and was crucial element in the club's success.

His success in Israel led Nimni to play in foreign leagues, first with Athletico Madrid in Spain, where he was a permanent bench warmer, and then in England with Derby County. Originally signed to a three-month transfer, Nimni appeared in four goals in the English Premier League during the 1999-2000 season and scored one goal. Derby wanted to sign Nimni to a contract, but Nimni chose not to sign with the Rams. He soon returned to Maccabi as their undisputed leader, and was made club captain. His influence with the club spread beyond the field when on one memorable occasion, he made sure a coach he did not like was fired.

For the past several years, Nimni has been consistently the best player on the Maccabi squad and today he is one of the biggest stars in the Israeli league. In 2000-01, he led Maccabi to the State Cup and was top league scorer with 25 goals as a midfielder.

The 2002-03 season was a tough one for the midfielder. Coach Nir Klinger often benched him and he was rumored to be looking for a new club. Towards the end of the season Baruch Dago suffered a serious injury and Nimni returned to the starting lineup to lead Maccabi to their first national title since the 1995-96 title (in which he played a huge part). Nimni scored a staggering 14 goals despite opening in only 16 games.

After early elimination from the Champions League and unrest in the squad, Nimni was thrown out of the Maccabi Tel Aviv by coach Nir Klinger. He signed for Betar Jerusalem for the remainder of the 2003-04 season. He was on fine form for Jerusalem and was the teams top scorer despite arriving late in the season. Nimni scored 8 goals and made 6 assists, thus contributing greatly to Betar's successful bid to avoid relegation.

Nimni has had a surprisingly large role in Israel's 2006 World Cup qualifying campaign. On November 17, 2004, he started for the national team in a crucial away game held in Cyprus. In the 86th minute of a hotly contested match, the veteran midfielder squeezed in the winner.

Origin:
Israel

Position:
Left sided midfielder, playmaker or supporting forward.

Career Statistics:
64 caps/ 14 goals



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