Kornfein, Itzhik : Jews In Sports @ Virtual Museum

Kornfein, Itzhik

Itzhak Kornfein

According to many experts of Israeli soccer, Kornfein has been the most consistent Israeli goalkeeper of the last ten years. Blessed with superb reflexes and sublime positioning, he was Betar Jerusalem's goalkeeper throughout their mid-1990s golden years.

Despite his consistent league form Kornfein only managed five appearances for the national team.

Birth and Death Dates:
b. Sept. 24, 1971

Career Highlights:
As a teenage goalkeeper bred by Hapoel Jerusalem, Kornfein got his first taste of action with Hapoel Tiberias while on loan from the capital city side. He returned to Hapoel for the 1990-91 season, but could not break into the first team. Jerusalem released him to Hapoel Ramat Gan and then Kornfein had a brief tenure with Hapoel Petah Tikva before finally establishing himself as a first team goalkeeper with Betar Tel Aviv during the 1994-95 season. Though Tel Aviv's defense was abysmal, Kornfein conceded only 55 goals due to his tremendous acrobatics.

Kornfein was signed by an ambitious Betar Jerusalem management determined to build a title-winning side. He stood in goal for them in 1995-96 and while he did not miss a single match, he conceded a mere 31 goals in 30 games. Betar finished third in the Israel League, thanks to their Kornfein's skill and Eli Ohana's form upfront.

In 1996-97 Betar won the Israel League title, beating out their nearest competition by a nine point margin. Jerusalem featured a dazzling attack, but could not have won without the unbeatable Kornfein in goal. Itzhak had one of the greatest Israeli goalkeeping seasons of all-time as he conceded only 20 goals in 29 games. In December 1996, he was called up to the Israeli national team by Shlomo Scharf to play Luxembourg in his international debut.

In 1997-98, Betar won their second straight title behind the goal-scoring of Stephen Shalloi and Eli Ohana and the superb midfield duo of Istvan Pishont and Yossi Abuksis. Kornfein's role in the competition was pivotal and cannot be overlooked as he continued his impressive displays in goal. In the following two seasons, Betar remained a good team and even reached the Israel Cup final during both years, but were not quite good enough to win the League title. Itzhik's form however, never dipped and he continued to excel in goal for Jerusalem.

In 2000-01, Betar crashed to fifth place and in 2001-02, they only narrowly avoided relegation. During 2002-03, Betar improved slightly and finished in 9th place. Kornfein faced a struggle with Jerusalem as they attempted to cut 50% of his wages. The once-great club continued to struggle, but Kornfein remains a ray of light in a dark period in Jerusalem soccer.

Itzhik stood in goal for Betar in the 2003-04 campaign and found himself playing behind one of the worst defensive setups in the league. The 'keeper bravely held fort and conceded 42 goals in 33 starts. Jerusalem avoided relegation with a ninth place finish.

Jerusalem, Israel

Career Dates:
Player: 1990-present


Career Statistics:
5 caps

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