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Eyal Berkovic

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Eyal Berkovic
Berkovic in 2020
Personal information
Full name Eyal Berkovic
Date of birth (1972-04-02) 2 April 1972 (age 52)
Place of birth Regba, Israel
Height 1.70 m (5 ft 7 in)[1]
Position(s) Attacking midfielder
Youth career
1982–1988 Maccabi Haifa
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1989–1996 Maccabi Haifa 128 (25)
1996–Southampton (loan) 28 (4)
1996–1999 West Ham United 65 (10)
1999–2001 Celtic 32 (9)
2001-2003 Blackburn Rovers 11 (2)
2003–2004 Manchester City 56 (7)
2004–2005 Portsmouth (loan) 22 (2)
2005–2006 Maccabi Tel Aviv 25 (2)
Total 367 (61)
International career
1990 Israel U18 1 (0)
1991–1993 Israel U21 11 (1)
1992–2004 Israel 78 (9)
Managerial career
2014–2015 Hapoel Tel Aviv (general manager)
2020– Hapoel Petah Tikva (general manager)
*Club domestic league appearances and goals

Eyal Berkovic (or Berkovich, Hebrew: אייל ברקוביץ'; born 2 April 1972) is an Israeli former professional association footballer, football coach, team owner and television talk show presenter.

As a player he was an attacking midfielder who spent most of his career in England playing in the Premier League for Southampton, West Ham United, Blackburn Rovers, Manchester City and Portsmouth. He also had a spell in the Scottish Premier League with Celtic as well as beginning and finishing his career in his native Israel for Maccabi Haifa and Maccabi Tel Aviv. He made 78 appearances for Israel, and is considered one of the nation's greatest players.[2] Graeme Souness described Berkovic as "a tremendous passer. In the last third of the field, he is the best that I've ever worked with."[3] Berkovic was also noted for various clashes with managers and players, including Kevin Keegan (his manager at Manchester City), and Welsh striker John Hartson.

Following retirement he was appointed as general manager of Maccabi Netanya and later held a similar position of Hapoel Tel Aviv. He is the former owner of Hapoel Rishon LeZion.

Early life[edit]

Berkovic was born in moshav Regba, Israel, to a family of Ashkenazi Jewish (Hungarian-Jewish) descent,[4][5] and is the older brother of former Israeli footballer Nir Berkovic.[6]

Club career[edit]

Maccabi Haifa[edit]

Berkovic started his career at Maccabi Haifa in 1989, playing there until 1996. During his time with the club he won league titles in 1990–91 and 1993–94, and the State Cup three times, including a domestic double in the 1990–91 season. His performances for the club earned him a call-up to the Israel national team as well as the Most Valuable Player award for the 1993–94 season.[7]


For the 1996–97 season, Berkovic signed on a season-long loan for English club Southampton.[8] He proved to be a big influence, and was a major part of a 6–3 victory in 1996 over Manchester United, as he scored twice and got three assists.[9]

West Ham United[edit]

The next season, he was signed by manager Harry Redknapp[10] for West Ham United for £1.75 million, for whom he played for two seasons. Well liked by West Ham fans, he became an instant fans' hero by scoring the decisive goal against Tottenham Hotspur in a 2–1 win on his Upton Park debut on 13 August 1997.[11] He played in 79 games in all competitions, scoring 12 goals.[12]

Striker John Hartson had a prolific 1997–98 season for West Ham[13] helped by Berkovic's assists.[14] In a training ground bust-up between the two,[10] Hartson kicked Berkovic in the head, after Berkovic had punched Hartson in the leg as he attempted to help Berkovic to his feet after a crunching tackle. The incident was captured on camera.[15] Berkovic said of the incident "if my head had been a ball, it would have been in the top corner of the net".[16] Hartson was fined £20,000 for the incident and suspended for three games.[16]


Soon after the incident, he was signed for £5.75 million by Celtic, who were coached by John Barnes. In November 1999 Berkovic was subjected to religious taunts by Hearts fans while playing at their Tynecastle ground.[17] He played for the Scottish club for two years, scoring ten goals, but Martin O'Neill left him out of the team when he took over as manager and Berkovic returned to England to join Blackburn Rovers on loan for the second half of the 2000–01 season, where he scored twice against Queens Park Rangers[18] and Grimsby,[19] helping Blackburn achieve promotion to the Premier League in the process. Berkovic's loan move to Blackburn was not made into a permanent deal. The following year Manchester City's manager Kevin Keegan signed him in a permanent move. During his tenure in Scotland, Berkovic struggled to win over the Celtic fans.[20]

Manchester City[edit]

In July 2001, Berkovic joined Manchester City for a reported fee of £1.5 million.[21] He made his debut in August 2001, scoring one goal in a 3–0 home win against Watford.[22] In his second game for the team he suffered an injury which prompted the team to sign Ali Benarbia, an additional playmaker. When Berkovic returned, the City team began to play with both playmakers in a 3–5–2 formation with Kevin Horlock operating in the anchor midfield position. This was a successful formation, earning City promotion in emphatic style, with 99 points and a record 108 goals. In an FA Cup game against then-Premiership team Ipswich Town, Berkovic scored a volley goal set up by Benarbia from a corner and City beat the team in the league above them 4–1.

The following season when City were in the Premiership, Berkovic was instrumental in a 3–1 victory over local rivals Manchester United, a team he had also helped his previous team (Southampton) demolish 6–3 in the 1996–97 season. Eyal scored a brace. The tactic of playing with two playmakers was continued in the Premiership but results were not favourable and Keegan subsequently decided to play with Berkovic as the only playmaker. Berkovic was voted as Manchester City's player of the season in 2002–03 in the club's magazine. Berkovic received abuse from some of the City support when he made a 'throat-slitting' gesture to a female fan during a League Cup tie at Maine Road against Crewe Alexandra. The FA investigated the incident.[23]


A fallout with manager Keegan saw him move to Portsmouth for £500,000 in January 2004.[24] His first game for them was against his former Manchester City side. Pompey beat the Cityzens 4–2. Berkovic soon established himself in the first team at Fratton Park where he was reunited with his former manager at West Ham, Redknapp, who described him as a "special footballer".[25] Berkovic became a vital part of Portsmouth's drive for FA Premier League survival, scoring his first goal against Tottenham Hotspur.[26]

However, despite scoring against Fulham in the league[27] and Leeds in the League Cup,[28] he failed to hold down a regular starting place in the team for the 2004–05 season, and in January 2005 left Portsmouth. He had been linked with a move to Crystal Palace but instead decided to return to the country of his birth. He wanted to return to Maccabi Haifa but was rejected, leading him to a decision to sign for bitter rivals Maccabi Tel Aviv.

Maccabi Tel Aviv[edit]

The return to Israel opened with promise as the 2005–06 season was the 100th anniversary for Maccabi Tel Aviv and the club wanted to celebrate with a championship. The club signed several more stars such as Avi Nimni,[29] Giovani Rosso,[29] Blessing Kaku,[29] Avi Yehiel, and Eugen Trica.[29] Berkovic announced[30] at a press conference that the team would go all the way to secure the domestic double. Although the team had a positive start to the season, they were not able to sustain good form and their chances of winning the title diminished, resulting in a sacking of the coach Nir Klinger,[31] who was replaced with Ton Caanen.

Berkovic announced his retirement from professional football on 7 May 2006.

International career[edit]

Berkovic gained 78 caps and scored 9 goals for the senior Israel national team.[citation needed]

Media career[edit]

From 2007 until 2023, Berkovic hosted a popular sports radio program along with Ofira Asayag.[32]

In November 2017, the two began to present a weekly television show on Friday evenings, called Ofira and Berkovic, on Keshet Channel 12. The show achieved high ratings, but critics scolded the interviewers' vulgar style. Several interviews caused public controversy, such as with trans model Stav Strashko, or with rapper Dudu Faruk.[33] Berkovic quit the show in 2023. Shortly after, he signed a contract with Reshet13, which made him one of most highly paid TV personalities in Israel.[34]

Management career[edit]

Berkovic co-hosting his television talkshow Ofira and Berkovic in 2020

In the summer of 2006 he was appointed as the general manager of Maccabi Netanya. However, he was manager only for two months in which time he did not oversee any games. He stated that he left the job due to poor professional relations with Daniel Jammer, the club's owner and chairman.[35] Berkovic had been an active manager in the transfer market during his two months, signing 15 players including Mazuwa Nsumbu, Liran Strauber and Itay Shechter.[citation needed]

In May 2014 he was appointed as general manager of Hapoel Tel Aviv. In January 2015 he resigned following a breakdown in his relationship with club owner, Haim Ramon.[36]

On 11 May 2015, Berkovic became the owner of Hapoel Rishon LeZion from Liga Leumit, he paid $385,000 for the ownership of the club.[37]

Overseas career statistics[edit]

Appearances and goals by club, season and competition
Club Season League National Cup League Cup Europe Total
Division Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Southampton 1996–97[38] Premier League 28 4 1 0 6 2 35 6
West Ham United 1997–98[39] Premier League 35 7 6 2 5 0 46 9
1998–99[40] Premier League 30 3 2 0 1 0 33 1
Total 65 10 8 2 6 0 79 10
Celtic 1999–2000[41] Scottish Premier League 28 9 1 0 1 0 3[a] 1 33 10
2000–01[42] Scottish Premier League 4 0 0 0 1 0 4[a] 3 9 3
Total 32 9 1 0 2 0 7 4 42 13
Blackburn Rovers 2000–01[42] First Division 11 2 3 0 0 0 14 2
Manchester City 2001–02[43] First Division 25 6 3 1 3 0 31 7
2002–03[44] Premier League 27 1 1 0 1 1 29 2
2003–04[45] Premier League 4 0 0 0 1 0 2[a] 0 7 0
Total 56 7 4 1 5 1 2 0 67 9
Portsmouth 2003–04[45] Premier League 11 1 4 0 0 0 15 1
2004–05[46] Premier League 11 1 0 0 2 1 13 2
Total 22 2 4 0 2 1 28 3
England & Scotland total 214 34 21 3 21 4 9 4 265 45
  1. ^ a b c Appearance(s) in UEFA Cup


Maccabi Haifa

West Ham


Blackburn Rovers

Manchester City


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Eyal Berkovic". 11v11.com. AFS Enterprises. Retrieved 3 July 2021.
  2. ^ Jeremy Last. 60 Sporting Heroes for 60 Years. Jerusalem Post.
  3. ^ Johnson, William (6 February 2001). "Souness hopes success can snare Berkovic". The Telegraph. Retrieved 14 January 2013.
  4. ^ "ברקוביץ': אהיה מאמן נבחרת, אין רגש לחיפה". 2 April 2022.
  5. ^ Foer, Franklin; Tracy, Marc (30 October 2012). Jewish Jocks: An Unorthodox Hall of Fame. Grand Central Publishing. ISBN 9781455516117 – via Google Books.
  6. ^ "Berkovic finds paradise lost on cup trail with Souness".
  7. ^ "Israel – Player of the Year". Rsssf.com. 21 January 2011. Retrieved 5 February 2011.
  8. ^ [1] Archived 18 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ Sinai, Allon (5 August 2006). "Berkovic announces retirement". jpost.com. Retrieved 4 October 2011.
  10. ^ a b "Berkovic, Eyal: Jews In Sports @ Virtual Museum". Jewsinsports.org. Archived from the original on 5 December 2010. Retrieved 5 February 2011.
  11. ^ "Eyal Berkovic". whufc.com. Archived from the original on 9 July 2011. Retrieved 13 July 2011.
  12. ^ "Eyal Berkovic". Westhamstats.info. 2 April 1972. Retrieved 5 February 2011.
  13. ^ "Premier League 1997–98". Westhamstats.info. Retrieved 5 February 2011.
  14. ^ "Eyal Berkovic 1997/98 statistics". Premier League. Retrieved 6 November 2017.
  15. ^ Martin Thorpe (2 February 1999). "Hartson hit by ban and fine". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 7 September 2020.
  16. ^ a b Harris, Nick (2 February 1999). "Football: Hartson fined pounds 20,000 by FA – Sport". The Independent. London. Retrieved 5 February 2011.
  17. ^ Robertson, Rob (6 December 1999). "Hearts warn their fans about racial and religious abuse of opponents". heraldscotland.com. Retrieved 7 September 2011.
  18. ^ "QPR 1–3 Blackburn". BBC. 7 April 2001. Retrieved 6 November 2009.
  19. ^ "Grimsby fail to halt Blackburn". BBC. 24 April 2001. Retrieved 6 November 2009.
  20. ^ Ronen-Abels, Ofer (8 February 2000). "Berkovic astonishes Celtic fans, admits Rangers are champions". Pqasb.pqarchiver.com. Retrieved 13 July 2011.
  21. ^ "Berkovic ready to be Maine man". BBC Sport. British Broadcasting Corporation. 23 July 2001. Retrieved 30 March 2012.
  22. ^ Walker, Paul (11 August 2001). "Manchester City 3 Watford 0". sportinglife.com. Archived from the original on 5 June 2011. Retrieved 4 October 2011.
  23. ^ "UK: City's Berkovic faces inquiry over fan gesture". Sports Illustrated. 4 October 2002. Retrieved 13 July 2011.
  24. ^ "Portsmouth 4-2 Man City". BBC Sport. 10 January 2004.
  25. ^ "Pompey sign Berkovic". BBC Sport. 8 January 2004. Retrieved 13 January 2013.
  26. ^ "Tottenham 4–3 Portsmouth". BBC. 7 February 2004. Retrieved 6 November 2009.
  27. ^ "Portsmouth 4–3 Fulham". BBC. 30 August 2004. Retrieved 6 November 2009.
  28. ^ "Portsmouth 2–1 Leeds". BBC. 26 October 2004. Retrieved 6 November 2009.
  29. ^ a b c d "Tel-Aviv braced for big game on UEFA.COM". En.uefa.com. 16 September 2005. Retrieved 5 February 2011.
  30. ^ Goldberg, Asher (28 October 2010). "Soccer / Berkovic signs with Mac. TA – Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News". Haaretz. Israel. Retrieved 5 February 2011.
  31. ^ Wistrich, Robert S. "Nir Klinger resigns from Mac Tel Aviv". Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 5 February 2011.
  32. ^ "אופירה מרחיבה את הסינדיקציה: תכנית הספורט של רדיו ת"א תשודר גם בירושלים". Ice (in Hebrew). Retrieved 24 February 2024.
  33. ^ Rosen, Ido (12 October 2023). "Independent Content Creators Online: A Paradigm Shift in Film Aesthetic and Production, the Case of Israel". Ph.D. Dissertation, the University of Cambridge. doi:10.17863/cam.101964.
  34. ^ בוקר, רן (31 December 2023). "חוזה המיליונים של אייל ברקוביץ' ברשת: כ-200 אלף שקלים בחודש". Ynet (in Hebrew). Retrieved 7 February 2024.
  35. ^ Solomon, Sharon (27 July 2006). "Eyal Berkovic quits Maccabi Netanya". jpost.com. Retrieved 4 October 2011.
  36. ^ "Berkovic, Hapoel Tel Aviv split amid hail of insults". www.jpost.com. Retrieved 21 January 2015.
  37. ^ "אייל ברקוביץ' רוכש את הפועל ראשון לציון".
  38. ^ "Games played by Eyal Berkovic in 1996/1997". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 19 June 2022.
  39. ^ "Games played by Eyal Berkovic in 1997/1998". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 19 June 2022.
  40. ^ "Games played by Eyal Berkovic in 1998/1999". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 19 June 2022.
  41. ^ "Games played by Eyal Berkovic in 1999/2000". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 19 June 2022.
  42. ^ a b "Games played by Eyal Berkovic in 2000/2001". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 19 June 2022.
  43. ^ "Games played by Eyal Berkovic in 2001/2002". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 19 June 2022.
  44. ^ "Games played by Eyal Berkovic in 2002/2003". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 19 June 2022.
  45. ^ a b "Games played by Eyal Berkovic in 2003/2004". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 19 June 2022.
  46. ^ "Games played by Eyal Berkovic in 2004/2005". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 19 June 2022.
  47. ^ "PFA teams send Hatters mad". The Guardian. 15 April 2002. Retrieved 15 January 2023.

External links[edit]