Iconic Israeli sportscaster Meir Einstein has died following a battle with a debilitating muscular disease. He was 65.
Einstein passed away late Thursday, prompting an outpouring of tributes on Friday for the man whose gravelly voice became synonymous with Israeli sports.
In December, Einstein announced in an emotional broadcast that he was suffering from a disease that affected his muscular system and kept him confined to a wheelchair. However, he continued his work covering sports until his health began to seriously deteriorate in recent days.
President Reuven Rivlin led the tributes to Einstein, who became a national icon with his ecstatic, hoarse screams during his coverage of the Israeli national soccer team’s surprise 3-2 victory over soccer giant France in 1993, calling him “a man who knew that soccer was so much more than a game.”
“When you shouted with joy at that goal that will forever be engraved in the pages of history — we jumped up with you,” Rivlin said. “During painful (sports) losses, we were sad with you, and how sad we are this morning.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed Einstein “a respected sports journalist and commentator, one of the fathers of Israeli sports.”
“His voice will be missed,” Netanyahu tweeted.
After starting out in radio, Einstein moved on to television, where he covered soccer, basketball and a number of other sports.
Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev hailed Einstein for his work and his courage.
“Meir Einstein moved all of us over the course of four decades during the greatest moments in Israeli sports and broadcast the unforgettable games that are etched in our memories,” the Hebrew-language Ynet news site quoted her as saying.”
She also praised Einstein for “announcing, in a brave move a few months ago, his disease, and doing this in the field he knew best: a sports show on television.”
Einstein was survived by his wife and two daughters. Funeral details have not yet been published.