TORONTO - Brian Budd, a colourful former Canadian soccer international who won fame with a string of victories in "The Superstars" made-for-TV competition in the late 1970s, has died. He was 56.
Budd died Wednesday after he was found collapsed at his Toronto home. The cause of death was not immediately known. His family confirmed the death to The Score, the network for whom Budd worked as a soccer analyst.
Budd won seven caps for Canada in a soccer career in the 1970s that included stints with Vancouver, Colorado, Toronto and Houston in the North American Soccer League and Ayr United reserves in Scotland. He played indoors for the Cleveland Force and Baltimore Blast.
He was 24 when he won his first cap for Canada in 1976 in a 1-0 win over Mexico.
A fine athlete, he was a four-time champion in the "Canadian Superstars" competition and a three-time champion in the "World Superstars" competition from 1978 to 1980. The show, which pitted athletes in a variety of sports from rowing and swimming to tennis and weightlifting, instituted a rule after Budd's success that anyone who won the event three times in a row could no longer compete.
He beat the likes of pole vaulter Bob Seagren and football writer Greg Pruitt, earning US$40,000 for one win.
"I keep telling myself that I'm going to be an athlete some day," Budd told Peter Gzowski in a 1978 appearance on "90 Minutes Live."
Most recently he worked for a brewery and was a soccer analyst on The Score. Known as Budgie, Budd was a larger-than-life presence on TV, often making points with arms waving, voice raised and heart on his sleeve.
In the NASL, Budd played against the likes of Pele, Rodney Marsh, George Best and Ace Ntsoelengoe.
Asked what he missed about soccer, he said: "the camaraderie of the players on the planes, buses and in the dressing room along with the five-a-sides on the pitch to end each workout."
Highlights included scoring for Canada against the U.S. and El Salvador.
He is survived by his wife Brenda, and his son and daughter.