By Jake Rosengarten on Optus Sport…

Tomer Hemed isn’t just a footballer. He is an ambassador for his nation and his religion. The Wellington Phoenix striker talks to Optus Sport about Judaism, football and what brought him to the A-League – plus, a close friendship with a Premier League star.

He’s the A-League star who helped Thomas Partey settle in at Arsenal, has his own cheer squad in almost every city he plays in around the world, played host to Prince William during a tour to his home nation, shared the pitch with Diego Maradona in a game endorsed by the Pope and is currently playing professional football with a diet restricted by religious duty.

This is the unique story of Tomer Hemed, and why the first Israeli international to grace the A-League carries an enormous responsibility, wherever he plays.

The 33-year-old is more than just a footballer.

This week, in particular, illustrates that.

The Jewish festival of Passover, which this year runs from March 27 to April 4, recounts the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt and means Hemed will not be eating anything that contains bread and leavened grains – known as chametz – as a commemoration of that chapter in his people’s history.

After playing 59 minutes for the ‘Nix in their 1-0 loss to Macarthur FC at WIN Stadium on Sunday, the striker rushed home to enjoy a seder, a Jewish ritual dinner that retells the story of the exodus, with his family.

“Pesach is always special because it is not only one day, it is one week that you need to look after the food that you eat,” Hemed told Optus Sport.

Read the full article on Optus Sport here.