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North Carolina Soccer Hall of Fame

Tony Suarez

The late Tony Suarez, a Charlotte native who was inducted posthumously, was inducted into the North Carolina Soccer Hall of Fame on Jan. 21, 2012, along with Charlotte’s Bill Finneyfrock and former UNC Chapel Hill men’s soccer coach Elmar Bolowich. The Class of 2012 brings the N.C. Soccer Hall of Fame membership to 43.

Suarez was born in Havana, Cuba, the fourth of 12 children. His family moved to Honduras from Cuba to escape communism, and in his three years there Suarez learned to play soccer in the streets. The family moved to the U.S. in 1972 and settled in Charlotte when Suarez was 16 years old.

He played high school soccer at Myers Park HS for three years, was team captain for two seasons and was the Mustangs’ MVP his senior year. He went on to play college soccer at Appalachian State, and finished his college career at Belmont Abbey College.

Suarez tried out for the Lightnin’ in 1981, but did not make the team. He stayed on as the bus driver and doer of whatever else needed to be done. Injuries and suspensions opened a roster spot for him. Once he got on the field it was magic. He scored nine goals in his first 12 games, earned a spot in the ASL All-Star Game where he was named the MVP.

He finished the season with 15 goals in 22 games, and was named the MVP of the championship game as the Lightnin’ beat New York United 2-1 in overtime before a crowd of 20,183 at Charlotte’s Memorial Stadium.

He played an indoor season for the MISL Cleveland Force, but tore his ACL and MCL in his left knee eight games into the season. While playing for the Charlotte Gold in 1984, another injury to his right knee ended his professional career.

Suarez passed away in 2007 at the age of 51.

Also at the 2012 Hall of Fame induction, the NC Soccer Hall of Fame will recognize the Carolina Lightnin’ 1981 American Soccer League Champions as recipients of the inaugural “National Champions Hall of Honor” award.

Tony Suarez's HOF Induction Bio

The Tony Suarez Family
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