March 1, 2016
MY TWO CENTS
This coach bursts with pride when talking about one of his former players, Giovanni Savarese
Former LIU Brooklyn men's coach Arnie Ramirez remembers those special qualities of Giovanni Savarese when the Cosmos head coach played for him in college.
Cosmos head coach Giovanni Savarese filled the net at LIU Brooklyn on a regular basis.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
By Arnie Ramirez
Special to BigAppleSoccer.com
The New York City Soccer Gala Thursday night will honor Giovanni Savarese, Alfonso Mondelo, Bob Montgomery, John Wolyniec, Thomas Duffy, Albert Hot, Michael and Peter DiMaggio in New York City.
Savarese, whom I recruited, came to LIU Brooklyn highly recommended by Perico Leon, his coach in Caracas, Venezuela and Dani De Oliveira. Perico was a top center forward for the Peruvian national team in the 1970 World Cup. De Oliveira played for us at LIU.
Many people ask me about Giovanni now that he coaches the Cosmos, the most famous soccer team in the United States, especially after having coached Raul and Marcos Senna. What is he like? Was he a good player?
Coaching Giovanni was easy. The most important quality that I looked for in my players was to be a good person. If you are going to have a player for four years you must recruit good people. As a person, Giovanni was an outstanding leader. He got along well with everybody. He respected his teammates and always encouraged them to do well.
As a student Giovanni was named a Scholar-Athlete All American as a senior and was a member of the Northeast Conference Commissioner's Honor Roll. He knew what he wanted when he came to LIU. Getting an education was his goal.
As a player he always thought of the team first. At times I used him in the back, other times in the midfield but his best position was as a forward. He loved to score goals. He never complained. At practice he gave everything. He was always in a good mood.
To this day he keeps in touch with most of his former teammates. When he got married in Venezuela many of us went to his wedding. And, what a wedding it was. More than 500 people were invited.
While playing for LIU he scored some great goals. I never forget the goal he scored against Syracuse University from the kick off, 65 yards over the goalie's head. He could score with his right, with his left, with his head. He tallied 50 goals in four years and one year he was out for at least eight games because of illness.
He was very strong physically and mentally. Having played on all three lines gave Giovanni an edge as to how he experienced the different positions as a back, as a midfielder and as a striker. Not every player who became a successful coach can say that.
I also remember when he was a freshman and we went to preseason training in Hancock, N.Y. There was a piano in the dinning room. After the players finished eating, Giovanni started playing Beethoven's Symphony No. 5. We were so impressed. He even helped write and sing a preseason song.
Multi-talented, bright, simpatico, great player, felt at ease speaking English Spanish, Italian, joker, fun to be around, creative on and off the field and a good friend to his teammates.
I was so proud of him when I coached him. I was so proud of him when he came to the Major League Soccer combine in 1995 when the league started. I was one of eight evaluators. He was drafted by the MetroStars and became one of their all-time scorers.
When he started coaching the Cosmos and they won the North American Soccer League championship in 2013, I was in Atlanta rooting for him and the team. In 2015, they won again, so you could imagine how proud I am. He played with my son Roberto at LIU, so I consider him like one of my sons.
He is an incredible human being and he is a perfect example that nice guys can finish first.
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