CHICAGO (Dec. 21, 2017) – Former U.S. Women’s National Team head coach Tony DiCicco, who passed away last June, has been posthumously named the winner of U.S. Soccer’s prestigious Werner Fricker Builder Award.
As U.S. Soccer’s highest honor, the Werner Fricker Builder Award is given to an individual or group of individuals who dedicate at least 20 years of service to the sport, working to establish a lasting legacy in the history and structure of soccer in the United States. The award recognizes those who have developed programs that will outlast their own involvement in the sport. The award was first presented in 2002.
“The Werner Fricker Award honors those who have left a positive legacy on American soccer and no one embodies that more than Tony DiCicco,” said U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati. “We lost him too soon, but his impact and the way he cared about his players and the game, will be felt for generations. It will be an honor to present this award to Tony’s family. U.S. Soccer was his extended family and always will be.”
DiCicco, one of the most popular figures and leaders in women’s soccer history, was a true pioneer. He is the all-time winningest coach in U.S. Women’s National Team history, was part of the coaching staff that won the first FIFA Women’s World Cup in 1991, led the USA to the first Olympic gold medal for women’s soccer in 1996 and of course was at the helm of the USA’s historic run to the 1999 Women’s World Cup title.
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“2017 has been an emotional year for the DiCicco family,” said DiCicco’s son, Anthony. “Rather than mourning the loss of Tony, we have sought all year to celebrate his contributions on and off the field.
“The historic impact of his roles with the World Cup and Olympic Teams is well known, but his leadership founding and managing the SoccerPlus companies from 1982 until his death, co-founding the Soccer Champions’ Clinic in 2003, his efforts in the launch and growth of women’s professional soccer, along with the thousands of hours spent sharing his knowledge and expertise with other coaches through USSF and NSCAA (now United Soccer Coaches) Coaching Education programs all contribute to his overarching work as one of the game's foremost builders.”
DiCicco’s association with U.S. Soccer began in the late 1980s and in 1994, he took over from Anson Dorrance, himself a Werner Fricker Award Winner in 2016, as head coach of the U.S. Women’s National Team. DiCicco then led the USA to a third-place finish at the 1995 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Sweden.
It would be the last world event that he did not win as a U.S. Soccer head coach. The 1996 Olympic tournament, which was attended by massive, unprecedented crowds, and the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup, a once-in-a-generation event for women’s sports, changed the course of women’s soccer in the United States and the world.
During a magical few weeks in the summer of 1999, DiCicco deftly guided the U.S. team through a high-pressure World Cup tournament that ended in front of 90,125 fans at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, where the USA defeated China PR in a dramatic penalty kick shootout. It is still the largest crowd ever to watch a women’s sporting event. He was elected to the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2012.
“The Family is proud and humbled that the Werner Fricker Sr. Memorial Award Task Force saw fit to bestow him with this most prestigious honor,” Anthony said. “But for many who befriended him through the game, he is remembered for his personal investment and mentorship of countless individuals all of whom play and have played a role in the upward trajectory of soccer in the United States. We share this award with all who knew and loved him.
“In his induction into the National Soccer Hall of Fame with the Class of 2012, Tony explained its significance: 'I'm delighted that I was recognized not only as a coach, but as somebody who has helped build the sport here in the United States.’”
DiCicco is the third consecutive winner to come from the women’s game, following Dorrance (2016) and 1991 FIFA Women’s World Cup champion goalkeeper Mary Harvey (2017).
The award is named for Werner Fricker who served as U.S. Soccer President from 1984 to 1990 and was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 1992. Fricker is widely credited for playing a major role in bringing the 1994 FIFA World Cup to the United States. Born in Yugoslavia and raised in Austria, Fricker 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.
The U.S. Soccer president appoints a task force to review nominations. The nomination and consideration process takes place annually with a maximum of one award given each year; however, the Selection Committee is not required to bestow the award annually.
WERNER FRICKER AWARD
Year Recipient - Bios
2002 Werner Fricker Sr.
2003 Sunil Gulati
2005 Gerhard Mengel
2006 Sal Rapaglia
2007 Francisco Marcos
2008 Bob Gansler
2009 Alan Rothenberg
2010 Bob Contiguglia
2011 Kevin Payne
2012 Hank Steinbrecher
2014 Richard Groff
2015 Bruce Arena
2016 Anson Dorrance
2017 Mary Harvey
2018 Tony DiCicco