Feature image photo credit: Neria Gerevitch
According to Fox Sports and the Jerusalem Post, professional soccer player turned football player, Gal Mesika from Israel, has caught the attention of NFL scouts and earned an NFL tryout, the first player ever from his country to do so.
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, a major sponsor of American football in Israel, has helped Mesika take a step toward achieving his dream of playing in the NFL.
The 27-year-old Mesika is relatively new to American football as he only joined the Israeli national team last summer as their kicker/punter when they traveled to Spain and defeated Team Spain 28-20 in an IFAF Europe qualification game. He has been playing professional soccer in his homeland as a goalkeeper and was a member of the under-19 and under-21 Israel national teams.
This past summer, Kraft was in Israel hosting a group of Pro Football Hall of Fame members and noticed Mesika when the national team played an exhibition game. Mesika was routinely making 40 and 50-yard field goal attempts.
With Kraft’s encouragement, Mesika put together a demo tape which attracted the attention of one of the leading kicking coaches in the US, Gary Zauner who took him under his wing. The improvements under Zauner’s tutelage led to the invitation to the 2016 Free Agent Specialists combine in Arizona, which begins on March 14.
Although attending a tryout is still a long way away from a spot on a team, it is a huge step for a fledgling football player and for advancing American football in Israel.