Sainsbury: Nikita Rukavytsya is 'basically the King of Israel'

Nikita Rukavystya has been no stranger to the limelight in recent times, with his unbelievable scoring streak inspiring Maccabi Haifa to a golden era in their history. 

The 33-year-old has scored nearly 50 goals in over 100 appearances for the club since joining back in 2016, winning back-to-back Championships in the process. 

READ: 'I fell in love with football again': Kenny Lowe's advice that helped save Sainsbury's career

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Socceroos defender Trent Sainsbury, who spent a last season at the Israeli Premier League club, revealed just how much the locals adore their Australian marksman. 

"'King Niki', he is the King of Israel basically," Sainsbury told The Soceroos Podcast, "and for good reason." 

"Anything in front of goal, and I mean any chance in front of goal he will put on target - put it that way. He is just a deadly finisher, and super quick for his age, he's rapid fast. 

"I think he's been unlucky with a couple of years not to be in the national team, but if he keeps his form like he is now, I don’t think there will be any question about him being that squad." 

Nikita Rukavytsya
Nikita Rukavystya scoring against Tottenham Hotspur in the Europa League

Sainsbury shared the helping hand Rukavystya played in assisting his family with adjusting to Israeli culture. 

"It was a pleasure to play with him, obviously that Aussie connection he helped me settle in a lot quicker and helped teach me the ropes.

"Israel is not like every other country that you go to, there are certain laws in different sort of situations you've got to deal with.

"But he was one of the good guys over there to sort of hang off and get free stuff with as well, because every time we go anywhere they would be like 'oh Rukavytsya, Rukavytsya!'

"It was a great experience and you know was happy to be able to experience alongside him on the pitch as well." 

Despite his wide range of experience playing for clubs throughout Europe and Asia, Sainsbury "can't think of anything that will come close" to the passionate supporter base of Maccabi Haifa. 

"It was amazing and a beautiful place, I really enjoyed my time there and I'd have to say it was probably the best fans I played in front of - they’re really crazy," he reflects. 

"I know people say this, but on game day you could feel the energy and the electricity in the air. 

"Fans have been telling us and people inside the club that we played the best football that we've been playing in generations so to be able to hear that, you get the fans building the energy in you, and when you scored that goal it erupts.

When we put five past one of their biggest rivals every single person inside that stadium was jumping up and down, you felt like it was an earthquake, it was ridiculous."

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