Who said there are no Jewish pro foot­ballers?

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY CRAIG SIL­VER

IT HAS taken 25 years for a pro­fes­sional Jewish Foot­ball League player to break through — so meet Joe Ja­cob­son, proof that this com­mu­nity does not stop at own­ing clubs and trad­ing play­ers.

Cur­rently play­ing as a left-back on loan at Bris­tol Rovers from Cardiff City, he has played five times for Wales at Un­der-21 level.

Hav­ing signed a pro­fes­sional con­tract with his home town side in July 2006, he made his league de­but in Cardiff ’s Cham­pi­onship de­feat at home to Nor­wich City three months ear­lier and made his first start in Au­gust 2006 in the Blue­birds’ de­feat at home to League Two side Barnet in the Foot­ball League Cup. Ja­cob­son was re­warded for an eye­catch­ing per­for­mance by be­ing voted man of the match by the lo­cal press.

“I know there are a lot of guys at youth level play­ing, but as I didn’t think I would be the only one out there,” Ja­cob­son said.

The 20-year-old re­flected on the ded­i­ca­tion needed to make it as a pro. “Of course, be­ing pro­fes­sional, I al­ways had the sup­port of my par­ents, but along the way I had to make a lot of sac­ri­fices, and one of the big­gest was my ed­u­ca­tion. I sup­pose that’s a worry for other par­ents, be­cause when you start play­ing foot­ball you are tak­ing a big risk, and, in some cases, the risk doesn’t al­ways pay off.”

Ja­cob­son, who is sin­gle, has al­ready played in front of crowds of 30,000plus, hav­ing rep­re­sented Great Bri­tain at the 2001 Mac­cabiah Games when he was 14. But he ad­mits his foot­ball has got in the way of his abil­ity to prac­tise his faith, al­though he keeps kosher at home. “It’s hard, you do as much as you can, but it’s dif­fi­cult when you have to play and train so much,” he said. “My fam­ily still do a lot, and so do I when­ever I get a chance.”

Oth­ers hop­ing to fol­low in Ja­cob­son’s steps in show­ing that Jews can make it in the pro­fes­sional game in­clude Charl­ton Ath­letic young­ster Jonathan Kur­rant, Rangers mid­fielder Dean Fur­man, Ley­ton Ori­ent striker Adam Bolle, Da­gen­ham & Red­bridge’s Sam Sloma, Steve­nage Bor­ough’s Paul Hakim and Ox­ford United mid­fielder Josh Ken­net.

Be­fore Ja­cob­son, there was for­mer Crys­tal Palace and Manch­ester City mid­fielder Barry Silk­man, who shared his view on the fu­ture of Jewish foot­ballers: “I just think the way Jewish youths are brought up has a lot to do with why we don’t get many pro­fes­sional Jewish foot­ballers. My par­ents were foot­ball mad and my mum took me to games nearly ev­ery week,” he said.

Joe Ja­cob­son joins Bris­tol Rovers, kick-start­ing a rare pro­fes­sional ca­reer

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