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Israeli Phenom Leads Euro 2008 Charge
New York Times, May 30th, 2007 3:45PM

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Israeli striker Ben Sahar of Chelsea barely stepped foot on the field for the Blues last season; the talented 17-year-old striker made his debut on Jan. 6 against Macclesfield Town in an FA Cup match. He played in his first Premier League game against Wigan Athletic one week later. As the English season entered crunch time, little was heard from the Israeli international since-except of course the two exquisite goals he bagged for Israel in a 4-0 thrashing of Estonia on March 28. (Sahar later attended the Dallas Cup, where he helped Chelsea reach the final of the Super Group.)

That was Israel's last Euro 2008 qualifying match, and Sahar's instant contribution was enough to get the whole country talking and earn him a starting spot against Macedonia on Saturday. After the game, Sahar is likely to be released for the eight-nation under-21 European Championship in the Netherlands, where he figures to be one of the tournament's most exciting players. Israel will host Andorra on Wednesday without him.

As he says, those goals against Estonia made him a superstar. "Things now are actually a little bit crazy for me in Israel," Sahar told Jack Bell of the New York Times. "Everyone knows you. Sometimes it is nice to play away from Israel, what with all the media there watching you, wanting to see what you're doing. In England, at least right now, I feel like a tourist. It is quiet and relaxed, even on one of the best teams." His future in Britain, meanwhile, remains bright. Chelsea officials told the Times the club is working on getting Sahar an exemption from the mandatory two-year military service served by all Israeli citizens over 18.

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