The Daniel Peretz game was largely uneventful on Thursday, so Maccabi Tel Aviv did everything they could instead. The extent of the farewell celebrations and outpouring of love on the field was unusual for a 23-year-old after just two full seasons, but it reflects his special status at the club.
Peretz, a Maccabi player and fan since the age of five, was already a folk hero by winning three domestic cups before helping Israel reach the semi-finals of the European Under-21 Championship last month. Ironically, this bitter departure to Bayern Munich made him an even bigger name. The whole of Israeli football is excited about his move to the Bundesliga champions.
At the final whistle against Slovenian side Celje, who won 4-1 at home in the first leg of the Europa League to determine qualification for the group stage, Maccabi issued a press release confirming that he had received €5m (£4.3m, $5.4m). ) He moved to Bayern with a quote from the Canadian owner Mitchell Goldhar, who came on this occasion only. “Daniel’s professional qualities are first-rate, only trumped by his personal personality,” said Goldhar. “We are saddened by Daniel’s passing, but we are also proud on many levels and wish him and his new club much success.”
An emotional two-and-a-half minute video, which blends Peretz’s best moments in goal with a recorded farewell speech, is heart-touching. He recalled the day he decided to become a goalkeeper at the age of six when he saw a pair of gloves in a shopping mall and spoke movingly of his deep ‘attachment’ to the club.
After the match, he went up to the stand of the club’s fans, who sang to him for 10 minutes. His colleagues formed a guard of honour, and he was then held aloft and given “bumps”. Veteran striker Iran Zahavi, who scored a hat-trick that night, kissed him on the cheek.
Later, Peretz gave a locker room speech and dined with his teammates at the upscale Capella restaurant on the 14th floor of a high-rise downtown.
“He was an incredible player for this club,” said Maccabi coach Robbie Keane. The Irish boss has only been in charge since late June, but those two months were enough to convince the 43-year-old former striker of Pirates’ qualities. “All I can say, since we’ve been here, is how humble and professional he is as a person. He’s such a lovely kid, he understands the game, he understands what it means to be on a team.
“Of course, he’s sad because he’s going to miss his teammates, but he’s going to one of the biggest clubs in the world. We couldn’t stand him.”
Bayern couldn’t wait to bring him to Munich. They sent a private jet — something unheard of in Israeli football — to take him, his family and his girlfriend Noa Kirill, who represented Israel at Eurovision in May and finished third, to the Bavarian capital in the early hours of Friday morning.
Negotiations had been a bit fraught between clubs in the previous days, with lots of haggling over fees. So desperate was Peretz to make it happen that he offered to forgo part of his modest incentive-based salary, which starts at €1.5m a year, in order to strike a deal. In the end, Bayern and Maccabi agreed on 5 million euros.
Young, tall, agile, confident on the ball and a fantastic penalty-stopper – he saved three goals in the European Under-21 Championship this summer, including two in the group stage with Germany – Peretz will initially be third choice behind the now-injured captain Manuel. Neuer and Sven Ulrich, whose agent Jurgen Schwab, who specializes in goalkeeping, was involved in this transfer.
Bayern made no promises to Peretz, but he will be given ample opportunity to prove his quality and see if he can become the third foreign-born player to play in goal for the club since Belgium international Jean-Marie Pfaff in the 1980s. . Peretz has a German passport, due to his maternal grandparents, which enabled the Bild tabloid to enjoy a few days earlier with the headline “Bayern sign totally unknown German goalkeeper”.
After seeking advice from his rabbi, Peretz will order shirt number 18. It is a spiritual number in Judaism, representing life.
Union Berlin, Belgium’s Anderlecht, Portugal’s Braga and a few French clubs were interested in him this summer. RB Leipzig had previously made inquiries. However, once Bayern contacted him, he made up his mind about their first player between the crossbars.
Peretz spent his entire teenage years glancing at Neuer, quite literally: he had a giant picture of the 2014 World Cup winner on his bedroom wall.
My game on my words. Written by Manuel Neuer
“Daniel is coming to Munich to learn, to learn from the best,” a source close to the player told him the athlete On condition of anonymity. Sharing the dressing room with Manuel Neuer is a dream come true for him.
It will be a while before the Bayern Munich members sing his name, if they ever do, but Peretz’s beaming smile for the paparazzi in Ben Gurion Airport’s private lounge before departing Tel Aviv last night said it all.
For the Israeli goalkeeping star, the chance to work with his idol was worth forgoing all the fawning back home.
(Top photo: Raddad Gebara/NourPhoto via Getty Images)