Ahead of Saturday’s huge clash between Chelsea and Manchester City, we thought it would be fitting to take a look at a former player of both clubs.
A formidable central defender, this player has played for a number of clubs in England, and across Europe. He’s also a regular for his international side and has made 92 appearances as of now.
This week’s Forgotten Blue is Tal Ben Haim.
One of the more underrated defenders in the league at Bolton Wanderers, Ben Haim attracted the interest a number of bigger clubs during the 2007 January transfer, with the likes of Chelsea, Tottenham, and West Ham all reportedly interested in the defender.
A January move never materialised, but a summer move to Stamford Bridge took place, and Ben Haim signed a four-year deal at Chelsea.
In the pecking order at Chelsea, the Israeli international saw him fourth choice behind John Terry, Ricardo Carvalho, and Alex. However, injuries to Terry and Carvalho allowed Ben Haim an extended run in the first team.
Following a draw against Wigan in April 2008, Ben Haim hit out at his manager Avram Grant, saying: “If I knew Avram Grant was going to be the coach I would have signed for another club.
“It was Jose Mourinho who brought me here and no one except he and I know the conversation we had when he tried to sign me the first time a year ago last January.”
Ben Haim was fined two weeks wages for his outburst, and wouldn’t be a Chelsea player for much longer.
After only a year in West London, Ben Haim was sold to Manchester City. His first team opportunities were also limited there, and he was later sent on loan to Sunderland for the second half of the 2008/09 season, where he struggled to break into the side.
In the summer of 2009, he moved clubs again, signing for Portsmouth. He became a key player in Pompey’s defence, but could not save from relegation from the Premier League during the 2009/10 season. Despite the relegation, Ben Haim remained with the club.
The defender was later sent on loan to West Ham, and he played eight league fixtures during his time at Upton Park. Both clubs discussed a deal to bring the Israeli back to the Irons, but the move could not be finalised.
Ben Haim then returned to Portsmouth, as they continued to struggle in the Championship. As the side entered administration and were relegated to League One, Ben Haim said he would not play in the third tier, despite having a year left on his deal. He left the club in August 2012.
It took until January 2013 for Ben Haim to find a new club, as he signed for Queens Park Rangers. He only made three league appearances during his time at Loftus Road, and left the club in the summer.
His next move saw him swap countries, and was announced as a Standard Liege player in July 2013. Ben Haim only stayed in Belgium a year, before he returned to England to sign for Charlton Athletic.
This spell, like many others, would only last one season for Ben Haim before he left the club. Despite being a regular player for the Addicks, the Israeli defender left the club in the summer of 2015.
Since his release from Charlton, Ben Haim returned to his native Israel and re-signed for his boyhood club of Maccabi Tel Aviv.
In a Champions League tie in November 2015, Ben Haim’s Maccabi side hosted his former club Chelsea. The Blues ran out 4-0 winners in Israel, and Ben Haim was sent off for a foul on Diego Costa.
The ultimate journeyman, is Tal Ben Haim. He’s played for a number of clubs, and you never know where the 35-year-old might end up next.