Israeli soccer player becomes first from nation to earn NFL tryout

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft's influence is helping an Israeli soccer player take a step toward achieving his dream of playing in the NFL. 

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Israeli soccer player Gal Mesika will make history, as he will become the first athlete from his country to earn an NFL tryout thanks to his invite to the free agent specialists combine in Arizona in March. 

Mesika, a 27-year-old from Herzeliya, Israel, was a goalie in top Israeli soccer leagues before he joined the Israeli national American football team last year as a kicker. New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft had a chance to see Mesika play when Kraft was in Israel promoting the game, and Kraft was impressed. Mesika then created a demo tape, which led to a chance to train with kicking coach Greg Zauner, one of the best in the United States.

Mesika improved his distance and accuracy through his work with Zauner, and the rest is history.

Via The Jerusalem Post:

“My dream is to play in the NFL and to wear the Israeli flag on my helmet,” Mesika said. “Perhaps one day I will kick the winning field goal in the Super Bowl and the whole world will see that I represent Israel. It even makes me emotional just to think about it.”

A tryout is a long way away from a spot on a team, but the opportunity represents a huge first step for Israel and the global reach of American football.