BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (JTA) — Argentine-Israeli soccer star Eial Strahman led the Argentine team Talleres to the national B Division championship and a promotion to the premier A league.
Strahman, 26, who formerly played for the Maccabi Haifa team in Israel, is now being called “Strahman the super hero” by media in the Cordoba province for leading Talleres to an unbeaten tournament, which finished Sunday. His five goals powered Talleres in its return to the First Division and he also represented the club by making the opening speech at its general assembly. The club invited a rabbi to lead prayers when it was pursuing the promotion to the top league this year.
After an international career that included Maccabi Haifa in 2009-10, Strahman returned to his native Cordoba to play for Talleres in 2015.
He represented Argentina in the 2005 Maccabiah Games in Israel, losing the final against Israel. In 2009, he was called to represent Israel in the under-21 team in a European qualifier but his club, River Plate, refused to release him.
Strahman began playing soccer in Macabi Noar, a Jewish community club in the Cordoba province, 430 miles north of the capital of Buenos Aires.
Strahman’s father, Julio, lived in Israel from 1975 to 1985. The player often speaks about his Judaism and has a tattoo in Hebrew on his back with the initial letters of the names of his four brothers. Interviewed by local television shows in which fans send in questions, he recently was asked “do you know how to dance to ‘Hava Nagila?'”
Strahman has never played for the Argentina or Israel national teams, which he has indicated a desire to do. In 2009, Strahman told a Jewish newspaper: “I look forward to a future opportunity to play for Israel.”
Separately, Argentine coach Jose Pekerman, who is Jewish, led the Colombia national team to a victory over the United States, 2-0, in the opening game of the Copa America tournament being held in Santa Clara, California.
Pekerman lived in the Buenos Aires Jewish neighborhood of Villa Crespo until he took over as Colombia’s coach in January 2012.