Mr. Labatt: Sam Lenarduzzi
Vancouver Whitecaps FC added Budweiser (Labatt Breweries of Canada) to our team today, and there is probably not a happier person to see Labatt's return to soccer and the team he once played for than Sam Lenarduzzi.
In 1985, Lenarduzzi was still playing for Toronto Blizzard and had one more year left on his contract. Howey Larkie was a manager at Labatt’s and a good friend of Sam's. They had often spoken about Lenarduzzi joining the sales team, but Sam was not ready to retire just yet. But when Larkie called Sam that year, Mr. Lenarduzzi felt it was the right time to make the jump to the world of selling beer. "It was a good decision that I made, as the North American Soccer League (NASL) folded the following year," he said. "As a result, I went on to work in sales for Labatt's for the next 20-plus years."
As a 'Caps player, Lenarduzzi and Larkie were very instrumental in helping Labatt’s become one of the major sponsors of Whitecaps FC during the club's heyday of the late 1970's and early 1980's. Then in the days of the old Canadian Soccer League, where Vancouver 86ers won four straight CSL championship titles, Sam and Labatt’s were on hand again to support the game of soccer as a major sponsor.
With alumni that once totalled over 300 members, Lenarduzzi is now one of 200 former employees that regularly meet and talk about their years in the brewery business. "We still get together once in a while to reminisce about the old days when Labatt’s not only partnered with Whitecaps FC, but with the Canadian national team as well," said the former defender. "It is great to see Labatt’s working with the Whitecaps again to grow the game of soccer in Canada."