’96 Hall of Famer Leonard Oliver Dies
Photo: Len Oliver's Facebook page
National Soccer Hall of Fame member Leonard Oliver, a midfielder who played for U.S. national amateur teams at the 1963 Pan-American Games and 1964 Olympic qualifiers, has died. He was 88.
He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1996.
Oliver won an American Soccer League championship in 1956 with Uhrik Truckers of Philadelphia. Over his career, Oliver also played with Baltimore Pompei and Ludlow Lusitano in the ASL and also with the San Francisco Mercury.
He also played for numerous teams with the U.S. Army in Europe in the 1950s.
“I am living proof that perseverance in soccer pays dividends,” Oliver wrote in an essay for the Society for American Soccer History. “I like the definition of perseverance that connotes ‘activity maintained in spite of difficulties, steadfast and long-continued application.’ That is the story of my long soccer career, particularly my pursuit of the Olympic Team.”
He grew up in Philadelphia and joined the Lighthouse Boys Club team with his twin brother Jim at the age of 10. He went on to win the National U-19 Championship with that team in 1948 and 1949 before becoming a three-time All-American at Temple University, where he was team captain as a freshman. He led Temple to a national championship in 1952 and was inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame in 1981.
After a brief stint with the CIA, Oliver earned a master’s degree in labor economics from the University of Maryland and a doctorate in adult education from the University of Chicago. He used his knowledge of soccer and the principles he learned in graduate school to become a coach and a trainer of coaches, mentoring more than 5,000 coaches along the way.
In 2016, Oliver announced he would donate his brain posthumously for concussion research.