ESPN remembers Tony DiCicco

ESPN mourns the passing of former United States Women’s National Team coach and ESPN soccer analyst Tony DiCicco. DiCicco died Monday night, his family said. He was 68.

DiCicco helped spur the growth of women’s soccer when he coached the national team from 1994-99, including the Americans’ victory in the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup. The U.S. beat China in the final on a penalty shootout in a sold-out Rose Bowl. That game remains the most-watched soccer match in U.S. history (an estimated 40 million viewers on ABC).

DiCicco also coached the U.S. squad to a gold medal in the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games.

After his Hall of Fame career as the most successful soccer coach in the United States, DiCicco spent the next three FIFA Women’s World Cup tournaments – 2003, 2007, 2011 – with ESPN as a match and studio analyst.

DiCicco’s contribution as a studio analyst during the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Germany helped ESPN earn a Sports Emmy nomination. He was also part of ESPN Films’ Nine for IX documentary “The 99ers,” which chronicled his 1999 Women’s World Cup championship team.

DiCicco’s ESPN colleagues reflect on the news of his passing:

“Tony showed us – and me in particular – the wonderful joy and gift that sports is.

“When we were in Florida together training for six months at a time before the 1996 Olympics, he was legendary for stepping onto the field with his hands raised in the air, running around and screaming out loud in the morning: ‘I LOVE MY JOB!’ As a team, we would all laugh and shout back: ‘WE LOVE OUR JOB!’ And then, we’d run out there and go train as hard as we could.

Julie Foudy and Tony Dicicco filming a segment at BU for an ESPN docu on the US 99 team coming out Aug. 20

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“Tony was the best at creating a wonderful family atmosphere for us as a team – hosting us at his house numerous times with his four boys and Diane, his wife. After our professional soccer careers, he has been a constant presence in our lives. Today, I smile when I see all the email threads coming through from his (past) players about the impact he’s had on our lives. That, in a nutshell, is what we hope people will remember about him – ‘Tony was a gem of a human being who passed on joy and shined a light in so many places, and did it in such a humble and incredibly understated way.’”
ESPN’s Julie Foudy, co-captain of DiCicco’s 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup winning team

“I first worked with Tony when he was coaching the US team during the 1999 Women’s World Cup. I was producing the USA matches and when the buzz around the team and the event started to really build – we wanted more and more from the players, and Tony was always incredibly accommodating and allowed our cameras and crew tremendous access. His sense of humor, professionalism and kindness really carried me through a challenging event.

ESPN’s Trey Bender and Tony DiCicco taping segments prior to Princeton men’s soccer game

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“After Tony moved on from the National Team, I had the great privilege to work with him during our coverage of multiple World Cups and countless US Women’s matches both as a booth analyst and in studio. I learned something about soccer every single day from Tony, and I learned even more about friendship. He was the guy you could always go to with any favor – from recommendations for soccer camps, to helping advise recently retired players get their start in coaching.

“I am gutted at the news of Tony’s passing. I lost a friend.”
— Amy Rosenfeld, ESPN senior coordinating producer, who produced the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup Final on ABC

“As great and accomplished a coach as Tony was, he was an even better person. No one was as beloved and respected throughout the game. We were partners throughout the 2011 Women’s World Cup in Germany, and I got to know a truly impressive gentleman with remarkable values and skills.

“The beautiful game will miss him deeply.”

— Bob Ley, ESPN’s lead studio host for the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup, who was paired with DiCicco on ESPN’s mobile studio set in Germany  

“I am absolutely heart-broken. Tony had a profound influence on what I have become.

“He was the coach who saw me play in college, spent four years trying to convince me to come back in for national team tryouts after a disastrous one. And when he finally convinced me to come back in, I made the team and achieved things one can only dream of.

“The world lost a kind, loving and beautiful man, whose legacy and spirit would live in all of us and the lives he touched.
— ESPN soccer analyst Kathryn Markgraf, who played for DiCicco on the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup winning team

In this interview republished today from Hartford, Conn., television station WFSB’s archives, DiCicco reviews the 1999 Women’s World Cup victory with reporter Joe Tessitore – who now is with ESPN.

WFSB 3 Connecticut

Many across the soccer world have expressed their thoughts about DiCicco on social media. Here is a sampling:

Tara Chozet contributed to this post.

1 COMMENT

  1. Tony DiCicco and the 1999 women’s world cup final is the reason that I became a fan of women’s soccer to the point that it has long been my number one favorite sport. There were a number of times between 1999 and the present when I wished that he were still the national team’s coach. Though I did not personally know him, I am saddened by his passing. Thanks for the memories, Tony.

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