Maccabi Haifa 2002/03 away - Rafi Cohen #9 (Champions League)

Extremely rare match worn Maccabi Haifa 2002/03 Champions League away shirt, worn by Israeli striker Rafi Cohen #9 in the "home" game against Bayer Leverkusen in Nicosia, Cyprus on October 1, 2002. Cohen came on as a 61st minute substitute as Maccabi lost 2-0. 

Due to the security situation during those years, Israeli teams could not play home matches in the country, and had to play at a neutral venue - Maccabi picked the GSP Stadium in nearby Nicosia, where it played all of it's "home" games during the campaign.

Originally a Maccabi Haifa youth team player, 25-year old Cohen re-joined Maccabi in 1999, playing four seasons for the club until 2003. Despite not always being a starting player, he achieved an impressive record of scoring 56 goals in 153 appearances in all competitions for the club. With Maccabi, he won two league titles (00/01 and 01/02) and the League Cup in 2002/03, where he scored the first goal in the 2-0 win against Hapoel Tel Aviv in the final.

This shirt is very memorable as this historic Maccabi Haifa Champions League campaign represented the first time ever an Israeli team made it through to the group stage of the competition, as they finished in a respectable 3rd place with 6 points, nearly 2nd second place, and included a memorable and shocking 3-0 win against Manchester United in Nicosia.

The biggest moment of Rafi Cohen's career came in this famous Champions League campaign. In the first group stage match vs. Manchester United away at the famous Old Trafford stadium, Cohen came on as a substitute in the 74th minute and 11 minutes later scored Maccabi's second goal to make the score 4-2, in an eventual 5-2 defeat.

Interestingly, this match was the only one in which the white away shirt was used during the campaign, making this shirt extremely rare, as the other five group stage matches were played in the green home kit.














Biggest moment of Cohen's career - scoring at Old Trafford vs. Manchester United   (c) alamy

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