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Bob Gansler Honored With Prestigious Werner Fricker Builder Award

WAIKOLOA, Hawaii (February 16, 2008) — Bob Gansler, the former head coach of the U.S. Men’s National Team, was honored at U.S. Soccer’s Annual General Meeting in Waikoloa, Hawaii on Saturday as the recipient of the prestigious Werner Fricker Builder Award.

The honor is bestowed annually to an individual who has worked tirelessly in furthering the interest of the sport of soccer, without regard to personal recognition or advancement. The Werner Fricker Award is designed to honor those who have created or fostered programs that will outlast their own active involvement in the sport and that establish a lasting legacy in the history and structure of soccer in the United States.

Gansler has been involved with soccer in the United States as a player and a coach at all levels. As a player, Gansler played in the National Professional Soccer League and the North American Soccer League and captained the 1964 and 1968 U.S. Olympic teams. He also had a total of five international caps with the U.S. MNT.

Starting in 1975, Gansler served in various coaching positions with the U.S. National Teams and was eventually named the head coach of the U.S. MNT in 1989, leading the U.S. to their first World Cup Finals appearance in 40 years in Italy 1990 during his two-year tenure. Gansler also coached in college and the professional ranks, including seven years with the Kansas City Wizards where he won the 2000 MLS Cup, 2000 Supporter’s Shield and 2004 U.S. Open Cup. 

Werner Fricker himself was honored posthumously with the inaugural award in 2002, with his son, Werner Jr., accepting the award on his behalf. Current U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati received the award in 2003, and with the organization’s Annual General Meeting moving from the summer months to March, no award was bestowed in 2004. In 2005 the honor went to Michigan Soccer Association President Gerhard Mengel, in 2006 the award was given to Sal Rapaglia, president of the Eastern New York Amateur Soccer Association and in 2007 the award was presented to Franscisco Marcos, president of the United Soccer League.

Werner Fricker is widely credited for his role in bringing the 1994 FIFA World Cup to the United States. Born in Yugoslavia and raised in Austria, he lived his adult life in Pennsylvania, where he was a star midfielder for the United German Hungarians of Philadelphia soccer club from 1954 to 1969 and was a member of the 1964 U.S. Olympic Team. He served as US Soccer President from 1984 to 1990 and was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in Oneonta, N.Y., in 1992.

The President of U.S. Soccer appoints a selection committee to review the nominations and select a winner.

Year     Recipient
2002     Werner Fricker, Sr.
2003     Sunil Gulati (more) 
2005     Gerhard Mengel (more) 
2006     Sal Rapaglia (more) 
2007     Francisco Marcos
2008     Bob Gansler