Israel’s football fans are mourning the loss of one of their former crowd favorites. Former goalscorer Lior Asulin was killed during the Hamas attack on Israel – as he celebrated his birthday.
He had turned 43 the day before. Lior Asulin was celebrating at a rave party in southern Israel’s Kibbutz Re’im near the Gaza Strip when Hamas terrorists entered there last Saturday and carried out a massacre. Numerous people were murdered. The former football star’s body was later identified.
“It is with great sadness that we learned, after many hours in which he was missing, that our former player Lior Asulin was murdered by terrorists at the party in Re’im,” said his former club Hapoel Tel Aviv.
According to Israeli sources, up to 1,000 Hamas fighters invaded Israel on Saturday, killing several hundred people and taking numerous hostages. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu then declared a state of war.
Cup winner 2004
Asulin also made Israeli football history in his two-decade professional career. In 2004 he won the Israeli Cup with Bnei Sakhnin, a club from a small town in the north of the country.
It was the first major title won by an Arab club in Israel. The Jewish striker Asulin contributed two goals in the cup final. After the final whistle, he celebrated with the Israeli flag while an Arab teammate waved the flag of the Palestinian territories.
Change every year
The striker subsequently also received offers from European clubs. Among others, the traditional French clubs Olympique Marseille and OGC Nice were interested in Asulin. But ultimately nothing came of moving abroad. Instead, after 2007 in Israel, the professional changed clubs almost every year.
Wherever he joined, Asulin quickly became a crowd favorite. After the end of his career in 2017, Asulin temporarily got on the wrong track. Between December 2021 and September 2022, the former professional footballer served a prison sentence for drug trafficking.
Asulin was “a guy with a heart of gold,” said his former coach in Sakhnin, Eyal Lachman. “Even when he made mistakes, he always wanted to correct them. And that’s what he always did.”