Boreham Wood’s Daniel Creese starred for Team GB at the famous Maccabiah Games in Israel, where they narrowly missed out on reaching the finals.
It was the 20th Edition of the annual Maccabiah Games, which are often referred to as the “Jewish Olympics.”
The games take place every four years and are known as the world’s third-largest sporting event, behind the Commonwealth Games and the Olympics.
80 countries and 10,000 athletes take part in the games annually across 43 sports, and with temperatures reaching 35 degrees, the players compete in extreme conditions.
Having successfully trialled for his place over a year ago, Creese was competing in the Team GB under 18’s football team.
Also competing in the tournament, was the son of legendary Brazilian striker Ronaldo, who featured for Brazil.
Creese, who qualifies to play through his mother, was one of the players of the tournament, finishing the games as Team GB’s top scorer.
On the honour of representing his country, the 17-year-old elated: “I was very proud to represent Team GB, having the chance to represent a country, is the highest level that you can reach, so for me to do that was amazing.
“It was such an experience and it’s only every four years so you don’t know how many chances you are going to get to play in it.
“Playing a level like that can only help me, it is a level above playing international, because you are playing at this huge tournament. It can only help your knowledge of the game and it has definitely improved me as a player.”
Team GB got off to a flying start, earning a 1-1 draw with hosts, and eventual winners, Israel. The Brits were the only team to take a point from them.
Creese scored his side’s only goal against Israel, before following this up with another goal and an assist in a 2-0 win over Spain.
The youngster then put in an identical performance against Germany, scoring and assisting in another 2-0 win.
However, Team GB came unstuck in a 2-0 loss to South Africa, despite dominating the match, as they succumbed to two goals on the counter.
Team GB had one match left to save their tournament and reach the finals, Creese explained:
“The match after was against Venezuela and the scenario was, that if South Africa drew with Spain, then we had to win 5-0, but if they lost then we only had to win. If they won then we were out.
“Their game was at the exact same time as ours, but on the pitch next to us, so we always knew what was going on.
“Spain went 2-1 up and we got the goal that we needed, but then South Africa equalised, and we were left chasing a 5-0 win, which didn’t happen. We actually had 20 chances, but just couldn’t score and we weren’t clinical enough.”
The young forward has now returned to Meadow Park and is back training with his usual teammates, but admitted that the experience was something that he will never forget.
He continued: “We were actually the only team to score and take a point from Israel,
who actually went on to win the entire tournament. That proves that we did have the quality to reach the final, but unfortunately, it didn’t quite happen.
“Overall, I was very pleased with how we done and when I got back everyone was asking questions about how I got on, lots of people had heard of it because it is such a big event.
“The hardest thing to adapt to was the weather, because we were playing in 35-degree heat and that is very hard haha. Once we got past that, I think that we were actually the most dominant team in every match, we all played very well together.
“I think that the fact that you are living with your teammates helps a lot, you get to bond together a lot quicker and you become very good friends over that time, it helps with the moral of the team and boosts everyone which helps us play a lot better.”