It is the time of the season to be jolly. Too bad US soccer lovers were not given their holiday cheer when Juergen Klinsmann turned down the US job. He would have been a fantastic stocking stuffer. “Ello, my name is Juergen. And I am going to win the World Cup for the USA.”
Nope. Not about to happen. But there are some goodies that you can give to your long suffering soccer compatriots. In the US, the choices are somewhat limited unless you are a Mia Hamm fan.
I highly recommend “Once in a Lifetime” by Gavin Newsham. Great story about the only US soccer club that mattered, the NY Cosmos. Pele, Beckenbauer, Carlos Alberto, Giorgio Chinaglia, Jomo Sono, Shep Messing, Werner Roth, Keith Eddy, Julio Cesar Romero, Johann Neeskens. A fascinating bit is how Henry Kissinger was involved in bringing Pele over. The Cosmos attracted crowds of over 70,000 at the height of its popularity. When Pele played his last game against Santos at Giants Stadium, on October 1, 1977, an over capacity Giants Stadium of 100,000 fans bade him goodbye. He was joined on the pitch by Muhammad Ali, who said, ” Now there are two of the greatest.”
In a legendary story, Newsham recounts the way the Cosmos made money. They were supposed to play the Haitian team who was jetlagged and disappeared before the match. So, the Cosmos found a bunch of guys who looked like them and had them play against the team.
The NY Cosmos was not just football, it was a slice of Americana in the 70’s with Warner Brothers, Ahmet Ertegun, Steve Ross, Atari, Studio 54, the Cosmos Girls. The players were rock stars meeting Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, Henry Kissinger and fans included Robert Redford, Barbara Streisand, and Mick Jagger. The NY Cosmos was the hottest ticket in town.
Once in a Lifetime is also a great documentary with interviews with everyone except strangely enough Pele, who reportedly demanded a fee of $100,000 for the interview at which the producers balked. Has a fantastic soundtrack with James Brown, Diana Ross, and Paul Weller and The Jam.
You can get the book at Barnes and Noble and the DVD at Amazon.