Levin, Nir : Jews In Sports @ Virtual Museum

Levin, Nir

An intelligent coach, Levin has thus far been unable to establish himself at the top of his profession. Levin spent his playing, and thus far most of his coaching, years with Hapoel Petah Tikva.

Birth and Death Dates:

Career Highlights:
Levin, who played for the various mediocre Hapoel Petah Tikva sides in the 1980s as a sharp forward, won the scoring title during the 1990-91 season, scoring 20 goals in 32 games. Hapoel came incredibly close to the title that year and lost only on goal difference. In 1991-92, Petah Tikva reached the State Cup final despite Levin's crucial penalty miss against Betar Tel Aviv in the semifinals. Two Meni Bason goals won the day for the White and Blues.

Thanks to the Cup triumph, Hapoel qualified for the 1992-93 European Cup Winners Cup. Levin scored against Stroemgodset of Norway, and helped his team reach the second round. He was also on the score sheet again against Dutch powerhouse Feyenoord, but Hapoel was eliminated from competition. Levin had missed an easy chance from a one-on-one situation in the first leg. During the Israel League season, Petah Tikva enjoyed the services of a great striking partnership in Levin and youngster Motti Kakkon, but were still nearly relegated, and only survived after a playoff win over Maccabi Jaffa.

After his retirement, the smart, born leader was an obvious coaching candidate. When Hapoel Petah Tikva tired of employing the son of the Football Federation's chairman, they hired Levin for the 1996-97 season. His first season was outstanding. With a meager budget he built his team around the homegrown talents of Kakkon, Eli Abarbanel, and Manor Hasan. The team were strong contenders for the title, though they lost it to Betar Jerusalem.

Levin's first European experience in the UEFA Cup was a positive one. They beat Estonians Flora Tallinn, 3-1, on aggregate in the first round, and then proceeded to beat Vejle of Denmark. Levin's charges fought Rapid Vienna tenaciously in the third round but went out valiantly. In the Israel League, they attained a respectable fifth place finish, while reaching the State Cup quarter final.

The ambitious Petah Tikva did not renew Levin's contract and signed Giora Shpiegel instead. But a year later, in 1999-2000, Levin returned after Giora failed to deliver, and Hapoel was very strong that year thanks to great work on Levin's part. The White and Blues were deep in the title race and ended up in third place despite having roughly half the budget of eventual champs Hapoel Tel-Aviv.

Hapoel fans were horrifed when Levin was dumped again in favor of the ultra defensive Eli Cohen. Levin opened the 2000-01 season with Tzafririm Holon, a very weak team with no budget and outstanding debts, but he worked hard to build a cohesive unit and made progress. However, when an offer came in from Maccabi Tel Aviv to replace Shlomo Scharf, Levin accepted it with alacrity.

This was Levin's first opportunity to coach a top team. He inherited a good side, featuring Avi Nimni and Tal Banin, but they never really got it together. Though they won the State Cup, beating Maccabi Petah Tikva, 3-0, in the final, a fifth-place Israel League finish was disappointing, considering the squad at Levin's disposal. The 2001-02 season was nearly a replica of the preceding one; Maccabi beat Maccabi Haifa in the Cup final, taking their second straight State Cup, but finished out of the championship race. By the end of the season, fans were clamoring for Levin's head.

Maccabi fired Levin who returned to Hapoel Petah Tikva. In the 2002-03 season he faced an uphill struggle with a weak squad. After one of the worst opening campaigns in Petah Tikva history, Levin was fired from the club and replaced by Freddy David.

Nir returned to the Israeli Premier League in 2004-05 when he was handed the reigns at newly promoted Hapoel Haifa. The coach faces a major challenge with the financially troubled northern club.



Career Statistics:
90 goals in 242 appearances. (13th of all time)

1 goal in 11 caps

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