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globalrugbyleague - Fri, 13 Apr 2007 15:30:00 GMT
El Magic:
the life of Hazem El Masri
By Bill Woods

How did a young boy from the war-ravaged city of Tripoli in Lebanon grow up to become arguably the greatest goalkicker Australian Rugby League has ever seen?

The answer to that question along with a string of others is made available in the brand new biography, “El Magic: The Life of Hazem El Masri.”

Written by Network Ten presenter and motor head, Bill Woods, the book opens up the life of a one-club man who is one of the fortunate few able to claim he won an NRL premiership.

Yet you can’t just throw this title into the same bookshelf as all of the other League publications that have been released over the years.

The book like the subject hold it’s own individual place in the literary world.

This latest biography touches upon a string of important themes including but not limited to faith, leadership and the importance of family. It conveys a variety of important topics of which football is one of them.

In it also is one of the best examples of admirable individual willpower. This is powerfully reflected in one amusing anecdote dating back to the early years of Hazem El Masri’s career in League.

‘The players , unlike many athletes , would go to Enfield pub after games, for the weekend awards. It wasn’t long before Hazem received one.

It was an envelope with $25 in it and a letter saying he was man of the match. To the applause of the crowd, , he gave his acceptance speech and started to walk away, but someone grabbed his arm.

“Where are you going?” they asked.

“What do you mean?” he said, wondering at the quizzical grin on their faces.

Then they produced a yard-glass full of beer. “It’s the tradition,” they chorused, “for the man of the match to skol this yard-glass ....”

With that the crowd started to chant: “Skol!Skol!”

Embarrased, Hazem politely hrefused, which served only to trigger more cacophonous chanting. He wouldn’t give in.

It was a stand-off for a couple of minutes, until an official stepped and after, calming the crowd, said: “Well, it’s good to see a young man who doesn’t drink…” To which they all booed in unison.

Those small cultural distinctions however would not get in the way for a man who had survived the challenges of a life threatening childhood in Tripoli. Nor would the giants he would come up against running around on the paddock.

Woods’ first Rugby League publication is at times harrowing yet for the most part it is filled with inspirational tales the rest of us can learn so much from.

Truly this is a one of a kind book about a very special character from the game who in a sense will always be in a league of his own.

El Magic: The Life of Hazem El Masri is published by Harpers Collins and is available in all good leading book shops. The RRP is $32.99. What a BARGAIN! - Read More, Here