George Mukhtar is taller than Hafez al-Assad

George Mukhtar is taller than Hafez al-Assad

Which is taller, George Mokhtar or Simon Crum? I don’t remember well. That was a long time ago when they were competing. The first catches balls and prevents them from entering the net, and the second shoots them into high baskets. What we know very well is that George Mokhtar was taller than Hafez al-Assad. This is a fact that no one can deny and it is documented in pictures. George and Simon are two players from the city of Al-Hasakah in the early seventies of the last century. The first is the goalkeeper of Al-Hasakah Sports Club, and the second is a basketball player in Al-Khabour Club, which won the United Arab Republic Cup in 1958.

This city, in northeastern Syria, was experiencing an advanced sports renaissance at the level of the country as a whole, and sports clubs were formed in it in the early fifties of the last century, until it reached in the seventies to four clubs, Al-Hasakah, Al-Khabour, Algeria and Al-Shabab. The number of its players in the national team reached nearly half, including four main players participating in all matches: goalkeeper George Mokhtar, striker Nabil Nano, striker Joseph Aref, and fullback Hanna Nasri. Some of them did not leave their original profession, although the ball made him a star, and he did not leave Al-Hasakah, although he received tempting offers to play in clubs inside and outside Syria.

George became more famous than Simon, with a difference due to the popularity of football compared to basketball, which remains elitist, even in our time, and did not take its glory as a game except in the United States thanks to a number of players of African American origin, some of whom reached international stardom, as is the case of Karim Abdul-Jabbar, who turned into a global icon and whose fame extended beyond the basketball courts and its fans to writing and cinema, even became a frequenter of some of the most prestigious international festivals such as the French “Cannes Festival”.

George Mukhtar appeared taller than Hafez al-Assad in the photo taken in 1976 when he welcomed the Syrian Army team after defeating Bahrain in the final match in the Arab Championship hosted by Damascus, and winning the Quneitra Cup. George Mukhtar was the goalkeeper of the team who managed to win for his team by blocking the penalty kicks, so he deserved a valuable gift in the form of a car from the Assad, but the picture published in the newspapers the next day almost ruined the life of the brilliant player, as his name became on the tongues of the Syrians who watched the transferred match. Live on Radio Damascus, accompanied by the commentary of the famous broadcaster Adnan Bouzo. There is a version that says that al-Assad consulted his friend, Mustafa Tlas, the Minister of Defense, about George’s popularity in the army, so he asked to give him 24 hours to conduct an opinion poll. That Assad translated the significance of this result militarily, and this is what made him review himself, and refrain from punishing Mukhtar, who surpassed him in height, and thus the punishment fell on the photographer and the editors-in-chief of the three newspapers, “Tishreen”, “Al-Baath” and “Al-Thawra”, which published the image in a space Kabeera occupied the main section of its first pages, and titled it to victory and did not address the lion, and highlighted Mukhtar more than him.

When some of the team’s players who participated in that match, including striker Nabil Nano, speak, they stop at several points. The first is that Assad attended the match in the municipal stadium in Damascus, and it was the first and last match he attended since he became head of state until his death. And the second, that Assad left Henry Kissinger, the US Secretary of State, waiting, and postponed an important meeting with him because he was busy with the match, and the news of this story spread widely in Syria, even reaching the ears of Kissinger himself, and therefore he congratulated Assad on his victory when he met him on the second day They had a conversation about sports before they entered into a political discussion. In fact, this story is a figment of the imagination of the Syrian services. Kissinger did not visit Syria in 1976, and his last visit was in June 1974, accompanied by US President Richard Nixon, after the Separation of Forces Agreement between Syria and Israel was reached, which Kissinger accomplished in Shuttle tours, during the months of February and March of that year, and he communicated with al-Assad in 1976 through the American ambassador to Damascus, Richard Murphy, to arrange for the Syrian military intervention in Lebanon. The third point is that Assad received the team after the end of the match at the Republican Palace, and honored George Mukhtar in a special way.

And in return to what connects and differentiates George Mokhtar and Simon Krum. Long stature. George lived and died for the ball in which he found his own world and the window from which he would extend his long arms to greet those who called his name and applauded his passing. While Simon did not associate his life with the ball, and this is one of the most prominent differences between a football player and a basketball player, the distance between them is like that between a violinist and a drummer. It seems that the social milieu from which Simon is aware of this. Football is learned by the boy in the street, while basketball needs special training, and it does not become a profession, but remains closer to those pleasures that achieve private satisfaction first. chasing the ball.

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