Klimi Saban is a dependable central defender with exceptional man marking skills. Klimi's good form in the 2003-04 season has opened the international soccer doors before him. In the defensive format Israel has employed in the 2006 World Cup qualifiers, Saban has started as the third central defender along with Arik Benado and Tal Ben-Haim. He currently plays for Hapoel Petah Tikva in the Israeli Premier League.
Birth and Death Dates:
b. February 17, 1980
Saban was a member of the Israeli national youth team while playing his way through the Maccabi Netanya youth system. He debuted for the "diamonds" during the 1998-99 season, as they successfully pursued promotion from the second division to the first. Maccabi finished first, 3 points ahead of runners up Hapoel Ashkelon.
The defender was given a chance to gain experience under Uri Malmilian's tutelage in the 1999-2000 season, Klimi's first in the Israeli top division. He scored a league goal and one in the State Cup quarterfinals against Betar Jerusalem. Netanya finished tenth and avoided relegation though their defense was somewhat leaky (71 goals conceded in 39 games). Netanya fared better in the 2000-01 season, reaching the state Cup quarterfinals and finishing 7th (with 61 goals conceded). The young defender started 24 games, made a league assist and scored in the State Cup round of 16 match against Bnei Yehuda.
Dror Kashtan brought Saban to Hapoel Tel Aviv, as he believed him to be the Israeli central defender of the future. However the Netanya native struggled under the new teams more rigid tactical approach and spent most of the 2001-02 season on the bench. He started 6 league games and made three appearances as a substitute. Tel Aviv finished second in the league, 8 points behind champions Maccabi Haifa. Relations between the headstrong player and his authoritarian coach did not improve in the 2002-03 season. Saban started only four times and was often precluded from sitting on the bench. He managed one assist for the "reds" as they placed third in the Israeli Premier League.
Klimi finally claimed a starting place in the Hapoel Tel Aviv lineup during the 2003-04 campaign. He started 25 games, appeared as a sub thrice, scored two league goals and passed for one assist. Hapoel reached the State Cup semi's and finished fifth for the season, as their defense conceded 37 goals (the fifth best defense in the league). Despite the uninspired team showing, Saban was clearly exceptional throughout the campaign.
In the 2004-05 Saban moved to Hapoel Petah Tikva and is their defensive mainstay. He continues to shine and has become a fixture in the Israeli national team squad. On September 4, 2004, Klimi made his international debut. He started for Israel against France in the 2006 World Cup qualification match in Paris and helped Israel to a 0-0 draw.