Ozzy Neav


It speaks volume about a person when his community remembers him for his brief moments of weakness and defeat, rather than his numerous accomplishments. Ronny Rosenthal is often remembered by football fans for his unbelievable shot against the crossbar against Aston Villa in front of a goal emptier than Avram Grant’s personality. Surprisingly, a reminiscing Rosenthal does not look upon the infamous miss unfavourably. “I’m used to it,” says the former Liverpool star. “If you asked me if I’d want to do it again I’d say yes because it put me on the map. I laugh.” While some remember him for the Aston Villa match and others for becoming the first to score a hat-trick in a full Liverpool debut since Bobby Graham in 1964, there is undoubtedly more to this special player who some thought would never amount to much as footballer. Here is the story of Ronny Rosenthal.

Born in the Israeli port city of Haifa, Ronny Rosenthal began his football career at the prestigious Maccabi Haifa youth academy at the tender age of 11. He progressed quickly and made his debut for the senior club at only 16 years of age. While he enjoyed some success early on, the Maccabi Haifa head coach at the time, Englishman Jack Mansell, was not impressed with young striker and was keen on releasing him.

Years later, Israeli national team head coach Shlomo Sharf shared Mansell’s opinion and booted Rosenthal from his squad claiming: “In this day in age, every player has to be able to put the ball in the net from close range and Rosenthal can’t do that.” Rosenthal was not released by Maccabi Haifa however because his winning personality and incredible professionalism caused many, including the Maccabi Haifa board of directors, to take a liking to this plodding and unbalanced striker.

It was in 1985 that Ronny Rosenthal would leave the confines of his native Israel and make the journey north west to Belgian side Club Brugge. Rosenthal would eventually win the Belgian domestic crown with Brugge along with an impressive showing in the UEFA Cup which saw Brugge advance to the semi-finals. In 1990, while playing for another Belgian side, Standard Liege, Rosenthal was permitted to go on a trial with English club Luton Town. It was at this trial that he was spotted by Liverpool scouts and was later loaned from Liege until the end of the season. Whilst arriving at the conclusion of Liverpool’s league campaign, Rosenthal’s contribution was integral in the Anfield club claiming the English crown that season.

Rosenthal went on the most successful run of his life in that short time span, scoring 7 goals in 8 matches, including a hat-trick versus Charlton Athletic. Sadly, Rosenthal was never able to mimic that magical performance again in his career. Used mainly as a substitute, Rosenthal would eventually make his way to London in January of 94 to play for Tottenham. He was only able to achieve modest success in a Hotspur shirt, netting a mere 11 goals in 100 appearances.

While many English league fans associate Rosenthal with the outrageous miss against Villa, most Israeli Football fans remember Rosenthal for the majestic goal he scored for the national team against Azerbaijan when he took the ball from the Israeli penalty area all the way into the Azerbaijan net in a George Weah style goal. It was one of Ronny’s 11 goals for the national team in which he enjoyed more success than at the club level.

Critics of Rosenthal are quick to bring our attention to his lack of balance, poor on-target shooting percentage and his annoying habit of dribbling with his head down. Supporters argue that Rosenthal had the knack of scoring the big goals and overpowering defenders in the box. Regardless of what one feels about Rosenthal as a player, it cannot be denied that he was far more intelligent, politically savvy and professional than the average footballer. He is the type of underachieving employee that employers keep around because of his positivity and impeccable behavior.

Rosenthal has been tight lipped about most of his professional and personal life after leaving the game. He lives in England with his Belgian wife and two boys; one of which plays for the youth team of Ronny’s former club, Watford. Rosenthal describes himself as a business man and football consultant. He makes every effort to shun public life and keep his family affairs private. While he might not wish us to remember who he was, it is doubtful that Israelis and the Liverpool faithful will forget anytime soon.

While he was never the best player on the pitch, he was always the one fans cheered for just a little bit louder than rest. Rosenthal may never have been a truly great footballer, but he is a great person, of that there can be no argument.