Robert Italo Lenarduzzi, OBC (born May 1, 1955) is a former North American Soccer League star, Canadian international, and coach of the Canadian national and Olympic soccer teams. He is currently club liaison for Vancouver Whitecaps FC. He is a member of the National Soccer Hall of Fame.
|Full name||Robert Italo Lenarduzzi|
|Date of birth||May 1, 1955|
|Place of birth||Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada|
|Height||1.83 m (6 ft 0 in)|
|1970, 1971||→ Vancouver Spartans|
|1970–1971||→ Vancouver Columbus FC|
|1979–1980||Los Angeles Aztecs (indoor)||12||(2)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only|
Lenarduzzi began his professional playing career as a midfielder and defender at age 15 with Reading in the English Football League and went on to play 67 first-team games with the club, and scored two goals. Lenarduzzi then also joined the NASL Vancouver Whitecaps in 1974 in the team's first season. Until 1976, he divided his time between Vancouver in the summer and Reading in the winter. He played 11 seasons for Vancouver until the Whitecaps' last season in 1984, when the league folded. Lenarduzzi holds the record for most games played in the league, with 312. Lenarduzzi played all eleven positions during his tenure with the team. He was also voted NASL North American player of the year in 1978. The Whitecaps won the NASL Soccer Bowl championship in 1979. In 1984, Lenarduzzi joined the Tacoma Stars of Major Indoor Soccer League (MISL). He spent two seasons with them before moving to the Vancouver 86ers of the Canadian Soccer League in 1986 to become the team's Executive Director. In 1987, he returned to the field as a player and a coach with the 86ers.
National team playing career
Lenarduzzi earned 47 caps playing for Canada. He played all the country's matches both as the squad progressed to the quarterfinals of the 1984 Summer Olympics and as it participated in the first round of the 1986 World Cup finals.
Lenarduzzi resumed his pro career in 1987 as a player–coach with the newly formed Vancouver 86ers of the newly founded Canadian Soccer League. After retiring permanently from playing in September 1988, he continued to coach the 86ers for the next five seasons. He led the franchise to an unprecedented four consecutive CSL titles from 1988 to 1991. His team set a record for professional North American sports teams when the team went 46 games unbeaten between June 6, 1988 and August 8, 1989. His 86ers career win, loss, draw of 96–24–28 makes him mos successful coach in Vancouver professional sports history.
Canada national team
Lenarduzzi became head coach of the men's national team in 1993. In his first of two bids to see Canada back through to a World Cup finals, his squad twice came close but failed to progress to the 1994 finals. First they lost at home to Mexico despite scoring the game's first goal in a game with which Canada could have gone through to the finals with a win. (See 1994 FIFA World Cup qualification (CONCACAF).) As CONCACAF qualifying winners-up, Canada then lost the away leg to Australia in a match decided by penalty kicks that saw the winner of the home-and-away series go on to play Argentina in a home-and-away series for a finals spot (won by Argentina).
In qualifying for the 1998 finals, Canada failed to finish in the top three of a six-nation CONCACAF final qualifying round league tournament and progress. (See 1998 FIFA World Cup qualification (CONCACAF).) Lenarduzzi subsequently resigned his post in 1997.
Lenarduzzi served as 86ers general manager from 1988 to 1993. He resumed the post in 1998 and was named the A-League's executive of the year for 2000. In 2001, he also assumed the position of the Whitecaps Head of Soccer Operations. (The 86ers changed their name to Whitecaps in 2001.)
He was the president of Vancouver Whitecaps FC since it entered Major League Soccer until August 15, 2019, when the role was eliminated in favour of the role of sporting director. He will now serve as club liaison.
In 2001, Lenarduzzi was inducted as a player into the Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame. In 2005, he was awarded the Order of British Columbia. In 2003, he was inducted into the U.S. National Soccer Hall of Fame. Lenarduzzi was voted one of the Top 30 Players of the Century in the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) region.
- "Story of a shattered life: A single childhood incident pushed Dawn Crey into a downward spiral | Vancouver Sun". November 24, 2001. Archived from the original on May 7, 2014.
- Van Diest, Derek (July 28, 2013). "It's a Whitecaps life for Bob Lenarduzzi". Edmonton Sun. Retrieved November 24, 2019.
- "Ellensburg Daily Record - Google News Archive Search". Google News. Retrieved November 7, 2014.
- Sciarpelletti, Laura (August 16, 2019). "Lenarduzzi out as Whitecaps president as club seeks sporting director". CBC Sports. Retrieved August 16, 2019.