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Women's Soccer Pioneer Coach Tony DiCicco Passes Away At 68

By Gary R. Blockus | June 20, 2017, 4:32 p.m. (ET)

 Tony DiCicco holds his hand over his heart before a game against Norway at RFK Stadium on Aug. 6, 1995 in Washington, D.C. 

 

Legendary women’s soccer coach Tony DiCicco, who led the United States to the very first Olympic women’s soccer gold medal at the Olympic Games Atlanta 1996, died on Tuesday at the age of 68.

DiCicco helped put women’s soccer on the map in the United States thanks to his success with players like Mia Hamm, Michelle Akers, Brandi Chastain, Joy Fawcett and goalie Briana Scurry, helping to launch a generation of growth for the women’s game.

Brought on as the goaltender coach for the U.S. women in 1991 by coach Anson Dorrance, DiCicco succeeded Dorrance in 1994, leading the team to a silver medal at the 1995 FIFA Women’s World Cup before the team dominated the women’s stage at the 1996 Olympics for the gold medal.

DiCicco also coached the U.S. team to victory in the landmark 1999 Women’s World Cup on home soil. The massive crowds at the 1996 Olympics and then the 1999 World Cup were unprecedented for women’s sports at the time.

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“A pioneer in the world of soccer, Tony will be remembered for his immense passion, his dedication to the game and his life pursuit to inspire players and people,” said NWSL Managing Director of Operations Amanda Duffy. “A truly influential figure, no one will forget the impact he has had on so many people's lives and his role in the tremendous growth of women's soccer in the U.S.”

DiCicco amassed an astonishing 103-8-8 record with the women’s national team and ranks as the winningest all-time coach in U.S. Soccer in terms of both wins and win percentage. He stepped down as national team coach following the World Cup win over China in 1999.

“Tony is one of the true legends of women's soccer in the United States and the game would not be where it is today without his dedication and visionary work,” said U.S. Soccer Secretary General/CEO Dan Flynn. “We've lost a great man, but we all know that the impact he had at the beginning of our Women's National Team program will be felt for generations to come.”

A native of Wethersfield, Connecticut, DiCicco is survived by wife Diane and four sons: Anthony, Andrew, Alex and Nicholas.

Gary R. Blockus is a journalist from Allentown, Pennsylvania who has covered multiple Olympic Games. He is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.