Thursday 17 August 2017

Chencinski aiming to bring Cruyff class to Hoops

Chencinski turned down his first offer to join the Hoops but things changed after he again fell
foul of the drop in Sweden with Helsingborgs IF last year. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Chencinski turned down his first offer to join the Hoops but things changed after he again fell foul of the drop in Sweden with Helsingborgs IF last year. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile

Barry Lennon

When Shamrock Rovers boss Stephen Bradley reviewed the CV of 'keeper Tomer Chencinski, one name stood out: Jordi Cruyff.

The 32-year-old stopper had been spotted by the former Manchester United midfielder in 2013 and was invited to join Maccabi Tel Aviv, where he was sporting director.

For Chencinski, who had then just endured relegation with Swedish side Orebro SK, there was only one answer for Cruyff (who was named the Israeli club's new manager this week).

"How can you say no, first of all to Jordi Cruyff? It was basically a no brainer," the Canadian-Israeli recalls. "We had been relegated, but me personally, I had a great year. That was noticed. Maccabi Tel Aviv, they came and they bought me. It went from being relegated to being a champion because we won two leagues back to back.

"It was just incredible what it means to people. When we won the championship we had basically a parade in the city and there was over 100,000 people.

"You go on stage everybody claps for you, everybody yells your last name as you're walking on. I have both Championship plates."

Jordi's legendary late father Johan often paid visits to Maccabi's training grounds and Chencinski keeps in touch with Jordi.

"It's tragic with his passing so being able to speak with him a little bit and take a photo with Johan. It's something I treasure," he says.

Chencinski turned down his first offer to join the Hoops but things changed after he again fell foul of the drop in Sweden with Helsingborgs IF last year.

"Stephen Bradley rang me back and the moment I spoke to him he sold me on the idea," he says.

"It's been absolutely lovely (since arriving in Ireland). I'm very happy. My wife is very happy, the people here are so friendly."

Tallaght is just the latest stop for the nomadic Chencinski, who was born in Israel to Polish parents, before moving to Canada, aged eight. He speaks Hebrew fluently and carries three passports as a result.

Football helped him continue his globe-trotting but he seemed destined for Dublin, having helped Finnish side RoPS set-up a Europa League qualification fixture with Rovers, before Maccabi played Dundalk in Tallaght Stadium last year.

Although he left both clubs before their visits to Dublin, Ireland is likely to leave a lasting impression on Chencinski (left) as he became a father here last month. "We're just super excited. I'm excited to put the baby in Rovers gear," he adds.

The new dad is in action tonight against Finn Harps.

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