Over the course of the history of Vancouver Whitecaps FC, a number of players who have played for the club at one point or another have also represented their country at the FIFA World Cup. As we approach the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, every day we will feature a player of years’ past who made it to soccer’s pinnacle event.
A Vancouver native who has been with the club since the first year in 1974, Bob Lenarduzzi has been a player, coach, general manager, and now president for Vancouver Whitecaps FC.
After heading abroad as a 15-year-old to begin his professional career with English club Reading FC in 1970, Lenarduzzi returned to his hometown to play for the expansion Vancouver Whitecaps in 1974. He would go on to play every NASL season for the ‘Caps, winning the North American Player of the Year award in 1979 and winning the Soccer Bowl with the team in 1979. He is the all-time leader in games played in the NASL (312).
Following the demise of the NASL, Lenarduzzi helped found the Vancouver 86ers and began in a dual-role as player/coach, winning the 1988 CSL title. After retiring, he led the 86ers to three more consecutive CSL titles as head coach.
Lenarduzzi ranks first in club history for games started (356) and played (362), and sits 13th in goals (34) while primarily playing left back.
A regular starter for his country, Lenarduzzi ended his playing career with 47 starts in his 47 appearances, with four goals scored and one assist.
He was a key contributor throughout qualifying for the 1986 FIFA World Cup, and started all three matches at the tournament in Mexico.
As a coach, he led Canada to the closest they’ve gotten to returning to the World Cup when they lost out in an intercontinental playoff to Australia before the 1994 tournament in the United States.
FUN FACT: Lenarduzzi (1993-1998) is one of six former Canadian men’s national team players to go on to coach the men’s national team. The others are Bruce Wilson (interim – 1985), Bruce Twamley (interim – 1998), Colin Miller (interim – 2003, 2013), Frank Yallop (2004-2006), and Dale Mitchell (2007-2009).