Match issued Manchester City #14 away shirt, prepared for and signed by Israeli midfielder Eyal Berkovic #14 in the 2002/03 Premier League season. Berkovic played two and a half seasons for City, having signed from Celtic in summer 2001. He was a key player in his first season (2001/02), scoring 6 goals in 25 matches to help the club achieve promotion to the Premier League. He had a good campaign in 2002/03 as well, making 29 appearances and scoring 2 goals in all competitions. Interestingly, despite City finishing the season in 9th place, they qualified for next season's UEFA Cup as Fair Play winners. Due to a falling out with manager Kevin Keegan, he only made 4 appearances for the club (starting only once) in the first half of 2003/04, and transferred to Portsmouth in January 2004.
This shirt is very rare as the away kit was only used in a handful of matches during the season, with City preferring to use their home kit most of the time. I also have an even rarer match worn/issued Berkovic third shirt from this season, used in only two matches. The shirt marks a homage to the club's historic Maine Road ground on their crest (1923-2003), as this was the last season they played there before moving to their new City of Manchester Stadium in 2003.
Nicknamed in Israel "HaKossem" (the Magician), the Israeli midfield maestro is considered one of the greatest and most skillful Israeli players of all time. He had a very successful career abroad, which is only comparable to that of Yossi Benayoun of all Israelis that played abroad: apart from Manchester City, he also played for Southampton (loan), West Ham, Celtic, Portsmouth and Blackburn Rovers (loan), scoring at least a couple of goals for each of them, forming a very respectable career on the British isles for nearly a decade, the highlight of which are some very memorable goals he scored.
|Berkovic in action vs. West Ham away on 21/09/2002 (c) getty images|
|Berkovic in action vs. Birmingham City away on 26/10/2002 (c) getty images|