Israeli Melikson pours cold water on Poland plan

22 September 2011 03:35

Israeli star Maor Melikson on Thursday said he had decided not to play for Euro 2012 hosts Poland for now, but would also turn down a recall by Israel, who have failed to qualify for the tournament.

"I decided that I'm not ready at the moment to play for Israel or for the Polish national team," Melikson said in a statement posted on the website of his Polish top-flight club Wisla Krakow.

"This is a personal decision which has nothing to do with the criticism I have faced," the midfielder, who holds both Polish and Israeli citizenship, said.

"I decided that it would not be fair to the Polish fans if I played in the Polish national team, as well, in the current situation, if I went back to Israel squad," he added.

Melikson has dominated Polish and Israeli sports headlines this week after Poland's PZPN football association announced that he planned to don the white and red shirt.

The 26-year-old faced an avalanche of criticism in Israel for rejecting his homeland, but also found himself drawn into a bitter Polish debate about national manager Franciszek Smuda's supposedly erratic capping and tactical choices.

Melikson transferred to Wisla earlier this year from Israel's Hapoel Beer Sheva.

He was crucial to their winning title fight and was named league "Discovery of the Year".

The Israeli's mother was born in Legnica in southwest Poland, meaning he got a Polish passport rapidly after arriving.

From 2002 to 2006, Melikson earned 25 caps for Israel's under-19s and under-21s, scoring three goals. He even faced Poland in an under-19 Euro 2003 qualifier.

But thereafter he was left out, and only made his senior debut against Uruguay in May 2010.

In his second outing, when Israel were beaten 4-3 by Ivory Coast, he scored two goals.

The fact that that game took place only last month caused raised eyebrows in both Israel and Poland when it emerged that Melikson was supposedly in the running for the Polish squad.

Because both of Melikson's senior Israel matches were only friendlies, world football's governing body FIFA would allow him to switch countries.

The rules bar players from changing if they ever play in a senior-level competitive match, however.

Melikson was called up for Israel's Euro 2012 qualifiers against Croatia and Greece earlier this month, but injury kept him out.

Source: AFP