Remarks Prepared for Delivery
Tribute to Dan Flynn
U.S. Soccer Annual General Meeting
Saturday, February 16, 2019
“A Great Champion of Soccer”
Earlier today, we heard from Dan Flynn. Dan has served as our CEO and Secretary General with distinction for the past 19 years, maybe longer than even he intended. In particular, over the past 12-18 months, he’s helped us ensure continuity and stability. Dan, I’m especially grateful to you for your partnership, wise counsel and friendship this past year.
And so it’s very bittersweet that we’re announcing today that Dan will step down later this year as we thank him for nearly 20 years of outstanding service. As with every senior position at the Federation, we’ll conduct a thorough search for his successor, and we’ll work for a seamless transition. And there will be more opportunities in the future to thank Dan for his many contributions. But, Dan, you didn’t think we’d let you off that easy today, did you?
True to his Missouri roots, Dan is the very definition of midwestern humility. He doesn’t boast or seek the limelight. As a result, the scope of his impact is not always fully known on the outside. So I want to take this opportunity today to briefly share a few highlights. And yes, Dan, we’re going to embarrass you just a little.
In Dan Flynn, our Federation found the proven experience of a player, a business leader and a soccer executive. As a star defender in college, he helped St. Louis University win the 1973 NCAA soccer championship. I’m told that, back then, he also had a pretty amazing afro. In business, he became president of Anheuser-Busch International, at age 31. In leadership positions at both the U.S. Soccer Federation and the U.S. Soccer Foundation, he helped fuel the growth of soccer in the late 1990s.
Today, we see Dan’s work as CEO in world-class facilities, from the National Training Center in Carson, California; to the National Training and Coaching Development Center in Kansas City; to the brand-new National Soccer Hall of Fame in Frisco, Texas.
We see his work in a renewed focus on National Team and player development, especially our youth. In fact, during his tenure, our Women’s National Team won three Olympic Gold medals and a World Cup.
And we see Dan’s work in the critical role he played in some of our great successes, from hosting the 2003 Women’s World Cup, with just four months to prepare; to the 2016 Copa America Centenario, which was a major boost to our financial security; to our successful bid to host the Men’s World Cup in 2026.
I have to point out, as many of you know, that Dan did all this in recent years while undergoing major surgery—a heart transplant, fully recovering, and then getting back to work, often at a relentless pace. Dan is unstoppable.
None of this has come without sacrifice. Dan has two great loves in his life—soccer and his family, and not in that order. All this time, his family has continued to live back home in St. Louis. Dan has commuted to Soccer House in Chicago just about every week, for some 25 years. And next month, he and his wife Cathy, who’s with us today, will celebrate their 41st wedding anniversary. And on behalf of all of us, I want to thank Cathy—and your daughters, Lauren, Anneliese and Erin, and their families and your grandchildren—for sharing Dan with us all these years.
Dan, your legacy will also be felt in another way. So many staff at Soccer House, and people in this room today, have stories. If they asked for five minutes of his time, Dan would give them 30. If they needed advice, he became a mentor. Dan, the example of your dedication and your decency will continue to inspire those who have worked under you—the next generation of soccer leaders—for many decades to come.
I know I speak for many of us when I say that it’s hard to imagine Soccer House without you. But you can look back on your tenure knowing that our Federation—and soccer in America—is stronger than ever in no small measure because of you. And as I invite him up to say a few words, I ask you all to join me in expressing our profound gratitude to our CEO, our friend and a great champion of soccer in America, Dan Flynn.