Wingate look to old boy Hakim for play-off inspiration
Hakim was the star man in Israel
Paul Hakim has boosted Wingate & Finchley's playoff push after joining the Ryman League Division One North outfit for the rest of the season.
The Team GB striker, who won Player of the Tournament at the Maccabiah Games last year, signed for St Albans City, Wingate and Maccabi League team Brady Maccabi, whom his father, Simon manages at the start of the season.
Work commitments and an ankle injury have prevented him from playing regularly this season. He played for St Albans in Saturday's 4-2 Blue Square South defeat against Bishop's Stortford, lining up for against GB teammates Mitch Hahn and Scott Shulton, and two days later, came off the bench to help Wingate beat Northwood to cement their place in the play-offs.
Hakim, 27, said: "I hope to play a part in helping Wingate clinch promotion. It's completely down to the manager but if selected I will do my best. I believe that I can provide a bit of quality." Hakim admits that the club is now very different to when he was there several years ago with Craig Ellis, James Gershfield and Jake Furman the only other Jewish players to have made the squad this season.
"Now, it's about the team doing well," he said. "Whatever they have done has worked although the Jewish element is not as prominent as when I was last there."
Hakim, who is moving to Cape Town for a year in July for work, has been impressed by the talented Jewish youngsters coming through. "There are definitely lots of pluses for Jewish boys to make it as a professional. When I was in my teens we were reminded about the importance of a good education and making a living. Now, I believe that more parents are encouraging their boys to make it as a footballer as there is lots of money to be made."
He described his experience in Israel last year as "a career highlight", after finishing as GB's top-scorer in his third Maccabiah. He said: "Finishing with silver was unbelievable but we should've won gold."