Shelah, Amir : Jews In Sports @ Virtual Museum

Shelah, Amir

Shelah is the all-time leader in Israeli international appearances with 85, and is the premier personal marker in the league. Though prone at times to aggressive play, he had toned down the ugly side of his game late in his career.

Birth and Death Dates:
b. July 11, 1970

Career Highlights:
Amir came up with Maccabi Tel Aviv during a productive period for the organization. Promoted to the senior side along with Itzhik Zohar and Avi Nimni, the young defender was loaned out to Third Division club, Maccabi Herzelyia for a year, but returned to claim a starting place during the 1990-91 season.

Two years later, during the 1991-92 season, the Israel League title returned to Tel Aviv after many years in exile. The following season was anti-climactic for Maccabi as they finished second in the league and lost the Cup final again. However, Shelah marked the start of an illustrious international career that year with his international debut against the Soviet Union.

In 1993-94 Maccabi finally won the elusive State Cup, and the following year, the club had one of the greatest teams in Israeli history. Shelah's performance was excellent and Maccabi coasted to the Israel League championship.

The 1995-96 season was even better as Itzhik Zohar came back from Belgium and added subtlety to the midfield. Maccabi Tel Aviv defeated Maccabi Haifa to the title and Shelah even scored a couple of goals. The State Cup was secured against Rishon Le'tzion and Shelah was very competent in the final. But after Itzhik Zohar left Maccabi in 1996-97, the team lost its cohesion. Shelah was erratic throughout the campaign and Maccabi managed only a seventh place finish though Amir managed two goals from the back.

The 1997-98 campaign was very similar as Avraham Grant's charges finished sixth again. Maccabi laid a lot of the blame at Shelah's feet, and Amir left for Betar Jerusalem. Betar's coach Dror Kashtan was delighted to have the defender at his disposal. Betar did not have much of a season and Amir was far from his best as the club came in fourth.

Shelah joined league champions Hapoel Haifa for the 1999-2000 season, but the team was torn apart by in-fighting. Amir lived up to expectations, but the team did not, and managed only a seventh place finish. Maccabi Tel Aviv then welcomed its prodigal son back for the 2000-01 season. Shelah was back with old friends Brumer and Nimni, and blossomed. Maccabi came in fourth, but their defense was tough to beat.They easily won the State Cup by beating Maccabi Petah Tikva 3-0 in the final.

During the 2001-02 season, Maccabi decided it preferred the services of the younger and cheaper Tal Ben-Haim and shipped Shelah to Maccabi Netanya. His new team finished seventh overall. That year Shelah also lost his place in the national team, having been a regular starter since 1992.

In 2002-03, Shelah's dependable defense was a major factor in Netanya's good showing. Maccabi finished in fourth place, a superb achievement considering their sparse resources. When Shelah criticized coach Gili Landau, the coach retaliated by refusing to play him for a few games. Netanya cracked unexpectedly and were relegated in the 2003-04 season. Struggling with a niggling injury and feeling the ravages of age, Amir announced his retirement before the 2004-05 season commenced.


Central Defender

Career Statistics:
85 caps

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