Former Aberdeen defender Clark Robertson says he is glad to be back playing football in Israel.
The 30-year-old became the first Scottish footballer to play in the Israeli top-flight when he made the move from Portsmouth to Ashdod in the summer.
But Robertson was forced to make a frantic dash back to the UK following the October 7 terrorist attacks by Hamas and the outbreak of war between Israel and Gaza.
The former Don, who made 68 appearances during his time at Pittodrie before joining Blackpool in 2015, has now returned to Israel and is back playing for Ashdod.
In an interview with the Mail on Sunday, he admitted it was difficult saying goodbye to his family, especially seven-year-old son Cole and four-year-old daughter Mimi.
Robertson said: “Cole does understand a little bit.
“I told him why I was home and told him why I was leaving again.
“It was difficult saying ‘bye’ to them this time, knowing I was coming back to this situation.
You’ve 30 seconds to get into your safe room, close the door and you’ve got to stay there for ten minutes after the sirens are off.”
“I told Cole I was having to go back to Israel and he asked: ‘Is this war over now?’
“I said it wasn’t finished yet.
“He knows it’s my job and I have to go back.
“I had reservations and I really didn’t know what to expect.
“I spoke to my teammates here because Israeli people are used to some sort of rockets being fired from Gaza to Israel most years.
“For us foreign players, it’s not normality is it?
“My dad was OK for me to go back as long as it was safe.
“My mum was most concerned, she didn’t want me to go back.
“I’ve been back two weeks now and I’m glad to be back on the pitch playing games again.”
Robertson says rocket interceptions sound like ‘loud thunder’
But Robertson admits there are regular reminders of the conflict.
He said: “Most of the time you’d never know there was a war going on 30 minutes down the road from where I live.
“I’ve been woken up a few nights with the noise of the Israeli military bombing Gaza.
“A week ago, I had my first experience of the sirens here warning of a rocket attack.
“A critical alert notification pops up on your phone. A second later you hear sirens going off.
“You’ve 30 seconds to get into your safe room, close the door and you’ve got to stay there for ten minutes after the sirens are off.
“You can hear interceptions going on overhead outside. It’s like loud thunder.
“It’s a strange situation to be in.
‘Israeli players happy to see foreign players back’
“There’s a bit of shock and panic when you hear the alarm for the first time.”
Robertson added: “As we got back to training, I got the feeling the Israeli players were happy to see us foreign players back.
“They were excited to start again, get the league going and take their mind off things.
“It’s an escape from the reality of what’s going on.
“I think a lot of the players feel like that. They just want to get back to some sort of normality.
“And most of Israel is.
“The restaurants and shopping malls are busy.
“There are alarms sometimes when you’re out but you must go to a safe place as quickly as possible.”