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Tributes are paid to former Welsh footballer Phil Woosnam

Tributes are paid to former Welsh footballer Phil Woosnam

TRIBUTES have been paid to Phil Woosnam the former Welsh footballer who became a leading figure in the game in the United States. He has passed away at the age of 80.

Born in mid-Wales, Mr. Woosnam, who was a cousin of the golfer Ian Woosnam, had worked as a physics and mathematics teacher before becoming a professional footballer.

He had enjoyed a successful playing career in Britain before crossing the Atlantic. The teams he played for included Aston Villa, West Ham and Leyton Orient. He also won 17 caps at international level for Wales.

In 1966, Mr. Woosnam was lured to the U.S. to become coach at the Atlanta Chiefs. At that time the game of soccer was at an embryonic stage in the country with only a handful of teams participating in the N.A.S.I. (North American Soccer League). As well as coaching, he also played for the Chiefs for a spell.

He was named the league’s coach of the year in 1969 before being appointed as coach for the U.S. national team and then as Commissioner of the N.A.S.L. When he took over the post there were only five teams in the league, but when he retired in 1980 the N.A.S.L. had grown to include 24 teams and had expanded to include activities in Canada.

Among the many tributes was one from the current N.A.S.L Commissioner Bill Peterson. He said: “Phil Woosnam was a true pioneer of soccer in the United States in every sense of the word and his contribution to the sport was immeasurable. He took soccer into unchartered waters and through his passion carried the game on his shoulders for many years.”

To view an interview with Mr. Woosnam, click here.

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