An Israeli professional soccer player, Gal Mesika, will be trying out for the National Football League as a kicker.
According to Steve Leibowitz, president of American Football in Israel, the governing body for American football in Israel, Mesika will be the first Israeli to participate in a tryout attended by pro-football scouts when he goes to the free agent specialists combine in Arizona, which will start on March 14.
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft had recommended Mesika, who had kicked for an Israeli national American football team last summer, for the tryout. Kraft, who has donated millions of dollars to Israeli football and has a Jerusalem stadium named after him, had seen Mesika kick when Kraft was in Israel hosting 19 members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Mesika’s demo tape led to him receiving an invitation to train with one of the most prominent kicking coaches in the United States, Gary Zauner.
As a result of the training, Mesika was invited to attend the combine for unsigned kickers, punters, and long snappers.
Mesika, who had previously been a top goalie in Israeli soccer leagues for the past decade, was the place kicker and punter for the Israeli team in American football in its inaugural international game, which was a 28-20 win over Spain in Madrid last summer. Mesika was also the starting goalkeeper for the under-19 and under-21 Israeli national teams.