"As far as I'm concerned, it's impossible to choose the five best goals of the 196 I have scored. They are all my babies, and I love them all equally," said Alon Mizrahi yesterday, mixing banalities with his customary charm.
"Apart from that, my favorite goals aren't even on that list, because they were in international matches: the goal against Parma in Italy, for example, or the two goals against Paris Saint-Germain in the quarterfinal of the UEFA Cup. And what about the goal I scored for the national team against Austria, when I rounded the `keeper and scored to put Israel into the play-offs for Euro 2000. It's true that I have scored some important goals in Israeli soccer, goals that have helped teams win championships and trophies, but they are slightly less important to me."
Anyone who may have thought that Mizrahi's two goals for Hapoel Be'er Sheva against Bnei Yehuda - placing him equal with Oded Machnes at the top of the all-time list of goal scorers in the top Israeli division - would put an end to Mizrahi's obsession with the record, was wrong.
"Please God, I hope the next goal will come very soon," said the striker. "Imagine if I had been playing for Maccabi Haifa this season. I would have had at least five more goals by now."
All the cliches are correct: his preoccupation with scoring goals has become an idee fixe for Mizrahi. One gets the impression that even another 200 goals in the Premier League would not eradicate the shame he feels that almost all of his goals were scored on Israeli soil.
For Mizrahi, this is almost a calamity: "Almost all the commentators and expert will tell you that Alon Mizrahi had it easy in Israeli soccer," he claims. "I have no doubt that I could have reached the highest levels of European soccer, just like Eyal Berkovic. When I played for Nice, I got a lot of offers, but my agents were only interested in lining their own pockets, not my best interests. I scored 17 goals in 34 appearances for the national team; the highest ever number per game. If I had played another 30 times for the national team, I would have broken that record, too."
Even though he has a hard time letting bygones be bygones, Mizrahi has no trouble looking forward. "Physically, I feel great, so of course my aim is to continue playing for as long as possible. I am a Hapoel Be'er Sheva player now, and everyone can see that, at the age of 32, I'm still scoring goals. I have skill, experience and agility - everything that a natural striker needs. After I retire, if I can find a chairman willing to meet my conditions, I would be happy to become a coach. But it is important for me that it be a professional arrangement, not some neighborhood thing. I have always aimed high and never been satisfied with mediocrity."
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