60 Sporting Heroes: No. 28 Rifat "Jimmy" Turk

His composure on the ball and lightning quick vision made him a massive asset to Hapoel Tel Aviv in the 70s.

rifat turk 88 (photo credit:)
rifat turk 88
(photo credit: )
If there was one sports star who led the way for Israeli-Arab integration it was Rifat "Jimmy" Turk. The speedy midfielder, who grew up playing soccer with his friends on the streets of Jaffa, was catapulted into the limelight when he was spotted by scouts from local team Hapoel Tel Aviv in 1970 when he was just 16. His composure on the ball and lightning quick vision made him a massive asset to the Hapoel team of the day. Although he never won any trophies in the early 1970s he impressed then-Israel coach David Schweitzer who made Turk the first Israeli-Arab to be called up to the national team. In 1976 Turk made another milestone when, after the national soccer team qualified for the Montreal Olympic Games, he became the first Arab to represent Israel at the Olympic games. Israel drew all three of its matches at the Olympics, against Mexico, France and Guatemala, but Turks wide smile and skillul play remain a strong image from that summer. Turk finally retired from soccer in 1987 and has since stepped into politics, representing the Meretz party where he continued his impressive list of firsts. In March 2003 he was elected as deputy mayor of Tel Aviv and continues to serve on the city council. Tomorrow: The coach that led Israel to the World Cup.