Israel stalwart Benado forced to retire

JERUSALEM - Maccabi Haifa defender Arik Benado, Israel's most capped international, was forced on medical advice to announce his retirement on Sunday, his club said.

Benado had planned to quit at the end of Haifa's European campaign next season but was forced to bring that forward after he was found to be suffering from a heart problem, media reports said.

Benado, 37, played 94 times for Israel and made his last international appearance against England in 2007. He also holds the record for Israeli top-flight league matches, with 565 in a career spanning three decades.

"This is a difficult day for me. After almost 30 years of football everything has come to a halt suddenly. I have been forced to retire on doctors' orders. It is not the way I wanted to end my career but my consolation is that I have managed to do it at the club where I grew up and which has been one of my life's loves," Benado said in a statement.

Benado played for Haifa and Beitar Jerusalem and won nine league championships and three State Cups.