Welcome to the West Ham United Memorabilia Collection featuring everything Claret and Blue
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Training at Chadwell Heath August 1970
Left to right: John Cushley, Clive Charles, Paul Heffer, Billy Bonds, Geoff Hurst, Mordechai Spiegler, John Charles, John McDowell, Jimmy Greaves.
Israel’s World Cup Captain Trials with the Hammers
Despite the disappointment of England narrowly missing a semi-final place in the 1970 Mexico World Cup, the tournament still holds fond memories for West Ham fans. Bobby Moore was probably at the peak of his career and marked it with some memorable performances. Geoff Hurst followed up his 1966 World Cup final hat trick with the solitary goal in England’s opening group game against the Romanians. And ex-Hammer Martin Peters scored the second goal in England’s narrow quarter final defeat to West Germany.
However, there was another West Ham link with the 1970 World Cup. Playing for and captaining Israel was Mordechai Spiegler, who soon after the tournament spent a few weeks on trial with the Hammers.
Spiegler caught the football world’s attention with some impressive displays as a forward in Israel’s group qualifying games. Israel was one of the surprise teams of the 1970 tournament and Spiegler contributed to their success. He captained the side in the group games which included a goalless draw with eventual finalists, Italy, and scored their solitary World Cup goal in the 1-1 draw with Sweden.
West Ham United Debut
A few days short of his 26th birthday, Mordechai played in three pre-season games in the space of seven days. His claret and blue debut was the first pre-season friendly away at second division Portsmouth on Saturday August 1, 1970. He played the full 90 minutes and made a promising start by making the second goal for Trevor Brooking in the 2-0 victory. Four days later he played in the first half of the Ashton Gate friendly against Bristol City before being substituted by Ron Boyce. His final appearance was as a substitute for Trevor Brooking against Orient at Leyton Stadium.
PARIS St. GERMAIN 1973-74
Mordechai Spiegler in front row 2nd right.
Spiegler joined Paris St.Germain from Paris FC in December 1973 (9 goals in 21 games)
Mordechai Spiegler receiving the trophy for the
best player of the century Israeli
Soon after the FIFA World Cup in Mexico ended West Ham manager Ron Greenwood invited Mordechai to east London. He joined in the pre-season preparations including appearances in some of West Ham’s pre-season friendlies.
Barriers to Career with Hammers
It is reported that Mordechai was very keen to join West Ham and the club wished to sign him but the move was fraught with problems, described as “technical difficulties” in West Ham’s first home programme of the 1970-71 season.
To complete a move from playing amateur football in Israel to playing professionally in England, it was reported that Mordechai required clearance from the Israeli FA, and from England’s perspective he required a work permit and the League Management Committee’s acceptance of his registration, on a long term basis. Mordechai was free to play in friendly games but anything more required overcoming significant administrative barriers. In the end the barriers proved to be too much of a challenge and Mordechai decided not to pursue a career with the Hammers.
Two Versions of West Ham’s 1970-71 Squad Picture
It must have been a close decision as two pictures were taken of the 1970-71 pre-season squad; one without Mordechai and a second with the Israeli star standing in the back row alongside Bobby Moore.
Return to Israel
Soon after his last appearance as a substitute in the friendly against Orient, Mordechai returned to Israel and continued to play for his club Maccabi Netanya. However, that wasn’t the end of the Spiegler affair. The flame was re-lit the following season when he returned to Upton Park to play in the European XI opposition in Geoff Hurst’s testimonial game.
Upton Park Appearance in Geoff Hurst’s Testimonial
Mordechai interrupted a tour of Australia with the Israel national team to fly to London to join the European XI’s preparations for the November 23, 1971 testimonial match. It was reported that an Israeli television crew visited Upton Park to film Mordechai in this important friendly. Unfortunately, the manager of the European XI, Tommy Doherty, saw fit to only play Mordechai as a second half substitute. Soon after the testimonial it was reported in the Daily Mail that he again expressed interest in signing for the Hammers and Ron Greenwood explained that the door to joining the club remained open. After further deliberations Mordechai declined the claret and blue opportunity and returned to his home club for the next season.
Mordechai remained keen to play professional football and it was reported soon after the Hurst testimonial game that he had a trial with the German club, Monchengladbach. But after another year with his home club he embarked on a two year stint in France. In 1972-73 he signed for Paris FC playing 39 games scoring 11 goals. After a season with Paris FC he switched to Paris Saint-Germain FC to make a further 13 French league games netting 10 goals. Then he was back with his home Israeli club, Maccabi Netanya, for season 1974-75 before venturing over the Atlantic to join New York Cosmos (17 games & 6 goals) and play alongside Pele.
After his spell in the USA Mordechai stayed in the game and commenced a successful career managing Israeli clubs.
Permanent Place in Israel’s
There are several measures of just how highly Mordechai is held in Israeli football circles and by the general community. His list of home honours makes impressive reading:
2 - 0 (Hurst, Brooking)
0 - 1
1 - 1 (Eustace)
Spiegler with pennant at 1970 World Cup
WORLD CUP FIVE
Five World Cup players at a pre-season session. Jimmy Greaves (England), Geoff Hurst (England), Clyde Best (Bermuda), Bobby Moore (England) and Mordechai Spiegler (Israel) pose in the Hammers' colours
If today’s less prohibitive regulatory and administrative framework had applied back in the early 1970s, perhaps Mordechai would have donned a claret and blue shirt and graced the English First Division for a few seasons! 1970 was the year when West Ham was very close to becoming the first English club to sign up an Israeli. West Ham fans attending the three 1970 away friendlies, and his solitary Upton Park appearance in Geoff Hurst’s testimonial, were fortunate to have had a glimpse of the Israeli captain’s skills.
In November 2003 he was nominated as the best Israeli player in the prior 50 years by the Israel Football Association in the UEFA Jubilee Awards
Israeli Player of the Year four times: 1967-68, 1968-69, 1969-70 & 1970-71
Remains Israel’s record goal scorer – 33 goals in 83 appearances (though in ‘official’ internationals, which exclude Olympic qualifying games, he notched 25 goals in 62 internationals)
Scored Israel’s solitary goal in the 1970 World Cup in the 1-1 draw with Sweden
Captained Israel at the 1968 Mexico Olympic Games tournament and Mexico’s 1970 World Cup
In 2005 he was voted the 105th greatest Israeli of all time in an Israeli news website to determine whom the public considered the 200 greatest Israelis.
WEST HAM UNITED
Mordechai Spiegler today
Israel international striker MORDECHAI SPIEGLER (21) and the well-known Brazil World Cup superstar PELE (10) celebrate a goal during the 1975 campaign for the New York Cosmos in the old North American Soccer League.
Date of Birth:
Sochi, Soviet Union
August 19, 1944
Loan July 1970
1972-73 Paris FC
1973-74 Paris Saint-Germain
1974-75 Maccabi Netanya
1975 New York Cosmos
1975-78 Maccabi Netanya
1978-82 Hapoel Haifia
1981-82 Beitar Tel Aviv