A failed spell with Chelsea remains a major source of regret for Maccabi Tel Aviv defender Tal Ben Haim.
The 33-year-old Israel international returns to Stamford Bridge on Wednesday to begin his club’s Champions League Group G campaign, eight years on from joining the reigning Premier League champions on a free transfer from Bolton Wanderers.
Ben Haim made 17 starts in all competitions for Chelsea during the 2007-08 season but failed to nail down a first-team place and was moved on to Manchester City.
A somewhat nomadic career in English football followed, including spells with Sunderland Portsmouth, West Ham, Queens Park Rangers and Charlton Athletic.
But falling short at Chelsea, where he felt he had the ability to become a permanent fixture, has continued to haunt Ben Haim.
“Chelsea is a wound that never healed for me,” he told a pre-match press conference.
“I see the players in their team, and I think I could have played six or seven years for that club.
“I worked hard from the age of six to join a big club [like Chelsea] and made many sacrifices, but after just one year it was over.”
Maccabi are coached by another Chelsea old boy in Slavisa Jokanovic and will take on opponents reeling from a dismal run of one win from their opening five Premier League games of the season.