If you're talking about Canadian Soccer, then Bob Lenarduzzi needs to be in the conversation.
Born in Vancouver in 1955, Robert Italo Lenarduzzi grew up in an active soccer family as one of four brothers playing the game. After playing semi-pro for the Vancouver Spartans in 1969/70 Lenarduzzi was recruited to play for England’s fourth division club Reading. After five seasons in England, in 1974, he and his brother Sam joined the North American Soccer League’s (N.A.S.L) fledging Vancouver Whitecap’s. Lenarduzzi would go on to play 10 seasons with the Whitecaps becoming the N.A.S.L. All-time leader in games played at 312 games. In 1984 the NASL folded and Bob went on to play two indoor seasons with the Tacoma Stars of the MISL.
Lenarduzzi was also a key member of Canada’s National Team from 1973 to 1986, making a total of 47 appearances for Canada – including 28 World Cup Qualifying games and 8 Olympic Team appearances.
In 1986, Lenarduzzi joined the Vancouver 86’ers as Executive Director in the front office and in 1987 and 1988 was appointed player coach, leading the 86’ers to the first of four C.S.L. Championships in 1988. He hung up his cleats in 1988 and kicked off what would be a long and successful front office career in the Vancouver organization.
Lenarduzzi’s career highlights and achievements include:
- NASL’s All-time leader in most games played.
- First Canadian to be named North American Player of the Year.
- Twice named the Canadian Soccer League’s Coach of the Year, as head coach of the Vancouver 86ers and Canada’s national men’s team.
- Voted among the Top 30 Players of the Century in the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football region by international media.
- Inducted into the Soccer Hall of Fame, the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame, the North American Soccer Hall of Fame, and the United Soccer League’s Hall of Fame.
What’s Bob doing now?
Lenarduzzi has spent more than 40 years in the Vancouver Whitecaps organization and continues to hold the role of Club Liaison. Bob is a public speaker and is a passionate supporter of families that struggle with the impact of Dementia. We hope that Bob will continue to be involved in Canada’s soccer scene for many years to come.
Headline Photo Credit: nasjerseys.com