Tony DiCicco, who coached the first U.S. Olympic women’s soccer team to gold in 1996 and the 1999 Women’s World Cup winners, died Monday at age 68.
“While the health challenges Tony faced were confronted head on and with eyes open, we never could have foreseen the beautiful journey that truly defined the magnificence of this man’s life,” was posted on son Anthony DiCicco‘s social media.
DiCicco is the only U.S. coach to win a World Cup and the Olympics. He compiled a 103-8-8 international record at the helm of the U.S. Women’s National Team from 1994-99.
A former goalkeeper, DiCicco succeeded Anson Dorrance, who stepped down as U.S. coach in 1994. He was businesslike and uniquely humored, with a trademark thick black mustache.
Mia Hamm once told him, “Coach us like men, treat us like women,” and he stuck by it.
“I don’t yell at them [my players] a lot because I’m too busy yelling at the referees,” he said in 1999, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I’m a passionate guy, but I have a pretty good idea of how to impact a player’s performance. It’s not my style to get in their faces.”
DiCicco was largely out of the spotlight during the U.S. run to its famous 1999 Women’s World Cup title, but he was of course very instrumental in their success.
Take the final shootout against China, and Brandi Chastain‘s winner.
“Most soccer fans aren’t even aware that Chastain wasn’t supposed to take the penalty kick that changed her life,” according to Sports Illustrated in 2000. “On the original list [Julie] Foudy filled that spot, with Chastain in reserve. But just before the kicks began, DiCicco switched the order because he believed Chastain’s grittiness suited the moment.”
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