Former Israeli national soccer team coach Emmanuel Scheffer passed away on Friday at the age of 89.
In 1970, Scheffer made history leading the team to its first and, as of yet only, appearance at the World Cup finals, played in Mexico.
The Polish-born coach led the team during two terms, between 1968-70 and between 1978-80.
Born in 1923, Scheffer survived World War II by fleeing with his family to Russia. After the war, he returned to Poland and established a team made up solely of Jewish players. He immigrated to Israel in 1950 and played for Hapoel Haifa and Hapoel Kfar Saba. His first coaching job was at Hapoel Kfar Saba. He went on to coach the national youth team in the ’60s.
Two years before making it to the World Cup finals, Scheffer led Israel’s Olympic team to the quarter finals of the 1968 Mexico Olympics, losing to Bulgaria in a coin toss.
Israel Soccer Association head Avi Luzon said Scheffer was “the greatest of all Israeli coaches, whose influence on the Israeli game and its development was decisive. His death is a great loss to Israel’s soccer legacy. I hope that his spirit remains with us forever.”
Scheffer was known for his strictness and exacting demands from players.
“He was an innovator and insisted on three training sessions every day with demands that I don’t know if today’s players would even be able to withstand,” Yitzhak Shum, who played under Scheffer in Mexico and went on to become a top coach, told Ynet.