The only Romanian in NFL

The prestigious "Wall Street Journal" considers Zoltan Mesko (24 years), the only Romanian in American football, "the most interesting man in the NFL". The Romanian-born NFL rookie became an idol to Americans: "He speak five languages, has two degrees (Business and Sports Management), and is a Romanian proud of its origin. That makes him unique".

Zoli Mesko was born and raised in Timişoara, Romania, three years before the Revolution of '89. He was only 3 years old when the revolution started in Timişoara. It was Christmas Eve and he was ducking on the floor of his parents' apartment in Romania to avoid getting hit by cross-fire during the revolution. His father sat over him. "All my friends are shocked when I tell this". Zoli went to the U.S. when he was 10 years with his parents, both engineers, through the Green Card Lottery. In a fluent Romanian, although he never returned to the country, Zoli tells about the important moments of his life. "I never forgot my country and I am proud that I am Romanian. I can't wait to come again home, in Timişoara". In 1997 he had the chance to be seen by a football coach and this changed his destiny. When Zoltan's eighth-grade class played kickball one day, he boomed the ball so high it shattered a ceiling light. The teacher gave him a choice: "You're either paying for my light, or you're playing for my team".

Before his senior season, Zoltan Mesko had become the nation's top punting prospect. Indiana offered him a scholarship, then every Ivy League school offered him admission. After red-shirting his freshman year, Zoli started the next four seasons. In 2009, he set Michigan's records for gross yards per punt, at 44.5, and net yards per punt (gross minus the return), at 41. He was also named an Academic All-American and became the first specialist in 130 years of Michigan football to be named a captain. On July 16, Mesko signed with the New England Patriots for the minimum wage. In the NFL, that's not $7.25 an hour, but $325,000 a year—and the team tacked on a bonus of $187,250. He might be among the poorest players in the NFL but is probably the richest kid from Timişoara, Romania. His dream was to play with the famous quarterback Tom Brady... and the dream came true!

Photos from Gazeta Sporturilor.


Pavel Zack said...

I am Romanian too and this year I played junior(grade 9) football in Canada and I totally loved. Now because of the winter I can't play anymore but I am waiting so much too play football again. My wish is to play professional football too (awesome sport) and Zoltan Mesko is my proof that even me a Romanian can play professional. So I hope that one day I will play professional football together with Zoltan. So Zoltan Mesko one day will about a second Romanian guy who plays football and that guy is me Ciprian-Zaharia Pavel but everybody calls me Zack.

Anonymous said...

I have nothing in common with football but I am a Romanian living in Alaska we have the nationality and the long cold winters in common. I hope to read about you in the papers being a famoud player. All the good luck to you man!