KANSAS CITY, Mo. (June 20, 2017) – Tony DiCicco, a beloved member of the National Soccer Coaches Association of America since 1981 and longtime Director of the NSCAA Goalkeeping Academy, passed away on Monday at the age of 68 and leaves an indelible legacy that will live on in our Association for generations to come.
The NSCAA joins the coaching and soccer community in mourning the loss of one of the game’s most selfless leaders and in paying tribute to his many contributions as a player, coach, administrator, broadcaster and educator over a lifetime spent sharing his love for the game.
“Tony’s passing is an incredible loss to our game. We have lost a friend. He adored his wife and sons and our thoughts are with them. He’s touched so many people’s lives,” said NSCAA CEO Lynn Berling-Manuel. “As Director of the NSCAA Goalkeeper Academy, he taught hundreds of coaches who will always be in his debt. And he will be revered by players across the spectrum -- from nine-year-olds who had their first soccer camp experience with him to national team stars who played in World Cups for him. There will not soon be another like him.”
DiCicco, who is a past member of the NSCAA Board of Directors and acted in an advisory role for both U.S. Soccer and FIFA, received the NSCAA Honorary All-American award in 1999 and was honored with the NSCAA Women’s Committee Award of Excellence in 2008. He was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2012 and the NSCAA Hall of Fame in 2016.
“We’ve lost a true legend. Tony has contributed to every facet of the game in the United States,” said NSCAA President Charlie Slagle. “He will be sorely missed.”
DiCicco’s coaching philosophy and expertise is woven throughout the NSCAA Coaching Academy curriculum and was delivered to countless coaches annually through the NSCAA Convention, NSCAA courses across the country and other available NSCAA resources.
“The loss of a legend like Tony will be personal, in different ways, for so many,” said NSCAA Director of Coaching Education Ian Barker. “For me, of all the people I have interacted with working at the NSCAA, Tony DiCicco stood out as someone who gave of his time to people when there was little obviously in it for him. A man of his experiences and accomplishments always considered other people important and he was always sharing his passion and wisdom of the game. We shall miss the colleague and we will miss the man even more.”
In a coaching career celebrated most poignantly by the athletes who played for him in addition to the many accolades he compiled, DiCicco is the winningest national team coach in U.S. Soccer history with a 105-8-8 record as manager of the United States Women’s National Team from 1994-1999.
“Tony DiCicco is one of the finest men I have ever known and he was a giant of the game,” said Hank Steinbrecher, former Secretary General of U.S. Soccer. “His impact goes beyond our sport. It goes to changing the culture of American sports in terms of women playing team sports. Tony was always an extremely strong advocate for the women’s game.”
He led the United States to the first gold medal in women’s soccer at the 1996 Summer Olympics and three years later lifted the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup trophy in a watershed moment for women’s sports in this country. Both feats stand today as the only time a host country has won the gold medal in women’s soccer or the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
“He was a tremendous friend, father and coach,” said former U.S. WNT member Brandi Chastain. “He gave everything and asked nothing except your best effort done with passion, integrity and love. He was a kind soul and a gentle walker of the earth. He laughed hard, with others and at himself, and was never apologetic about loving someone or something openly. Being a coach is a great gift and Tony embraced that moniker with gratitude and love.”
After stepping away from the national team to spend time with his wife, Diane, and four sons, DiCicco returned to U.S. Soccer as head coach of the U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Team in 2008 and led the squad to the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup title. The run improved his record at FIFA tournaments to 18-2-3 and saw him become the first coach to win each of FIFA’s top three competitions in the women’s game, in addition to a third-place finish at the 1995 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
"First and foremost, Tony was a great guy," said former U.S. WNT member Shannon MacMillan. "He absolutely loved every minute that he was out there coaching. He truly enjoyed the opportunities that he had. He was a coach that had a great knack for coaching women. Personally, he challenged me and pushed me on a daily basis. I'm forever grateful to him. He will be sorely missed, but never forgotten."
DiCicco is the only individual to serve as head coach of the U.S. WNT at multiple World Cups and he also served as the goalkeeper coach for the U.S. WNT from 1990-1994, highlighted by his role in contributing to the U.S. capturing the first FIFA Women’s World Cup in 1991. During that time, he also served as a goalkeeper coach for the U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team.
His impact on the sport extends well beyond the international level as DiCicco also proved instrumental in the foundations of women’s soccer as a professional sport in the United States. He acted as Commissioner of Women’s United Soccer Association from 2000-2003, led the Boston Breakers for all three seasons in Women’s Professional Soccer from 2009-2011 and served as a consultant for the Houston Dash in the National Women’s Soccer League.
In addition, DiCicco was actively involved in coaching youth and amateurs throughout his lifetime in U.S. Youth Soccer, the Olympic Development Program, adidas ESP Program and Connecticut Soccer League. Dating back to 1982, he founded SoccerPlus Goalkeeper School and would later found SoccerPlus FieldPlayer Academy, FSASoccerPlus Football Club and SoccerPlus CT Reds of the Women’s Premier Soccer League, coaching the latter to the USASA U-23 National Championship in 2007.
Himself a three-sport athlete at Wethersfield High School (Conn.) and Springfield College (Mass.) before a professional career in the American Soccer League with the Connecticut Wildcats and Rhode Island Oceaneers, DiCicco would continue giving back to the game within the school setting. He started soccer programs at Bellow Falls Middle School (Vt.) and South Catholic High School (Conn.), and he coached men’s soccer at Central Connecticut State.