Eyal Berkovic insisted that the record-breaking £5.75 million price tag, which was required to bring the Israeli international to Celtic from Upton Park, would not prove too much of a burden for him. One of the new recruits installed by John Barnes, the wily playmaker was adamant that despite his blistering displays on the pre-season tour of Norway he had not yet reached his peak fitness. Once that was achieved Berkovic both infuriated and enraptured the Celtic support. He scored two goals in his Old Firm debut and at his best he was Celtic's inspiration, but he played that role only infrequently. The imaginative midfielder was set to become an intrinsic part of the team that Celtic built but with the introduction of Martin O'Neill as manager in the summer 2000, he found himself more out of the team than in it, even when he was fit.
When Keegan offered him a £25,000 a week deal at Manchester City, he took the opportunity without looking back. City paid Celtic £1.5m for the Israeli midfielder and Berkovic opened the 2001/02 season well, even though it was claimed he was not fully match fit. This proved to be true and he was soon injured and sidelined for weeks only to se the Algerian superstar Ali Benariba take his place and filling it with honours.
9/1 2004: Israel midfield player Eyal Berkovic has left Manchester
City FC to join Premiership rivals Portsmouth FC. The 31-year-old has
agreed a two-and-a-half year deal to stay in English football and the
move reunites him with Harry Redknapp, his former manager at West Ham
United FC. The total fee is thought to be in the region of £450,000,
depending on appearances. Berkovic, who is in line to make his Portsmouth
debut against City on Saturday, said: "All I want to do is get down
to playing football regularly again and help the club out of the bottom
three which I believe I can." The playmaker started just three games
for City this season and had fallen out of favour with manager Kevin Keegan