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Hall of Fame Spotlight - Philip Woosnam (1997)


Philip Woosnam's soccer career began in his native Caersws in scenic mid-Wales. Upon graduating from the University of Wales with degrees in Physics, Math and Education, he became a star player for 12 seasons among three English Football League clubs: Leyton Orient, West Ham United and Aston Villa. His talents on the field earned him a remarkable 38 appearances at all five levels for the Wales National Teams: Under 14 (1), Under 18 (1), University (4), Amateur (15) and Professional (17). He also played on the multi-national Football League of England team against the League of Italy team at Milan in 1960. He then earned his English Football Association Coaching License, and then served on the Association’s Coaching Staff from 1962 to 1966.

In 1966, Woosnam came to Georgia as General Manager and Player/Coach of the Atlanta Chiefs. In 1968, the team won the first-ever professional sports championship for Atlanta. That same year, he was named the North American Soccer League (NASL) Coach of the Year and appointed Coach of the United States World Cup Team which qualified versus Canada and Bermuda to reach the final stage of qualifying for the World Cup Mexico 1970. Unfortunately, most other NASL teams did not organize and develop as well as Atlanta, and in January 1969, the NASL dropped from 17 to 5 teams. As a result, Woosnam resigned from both coaching positions and took on the challenge of rebuilding a nationwide professional program as Executive Director and Commissioner of the NASL from 1969 through 1983. By 1978, he had rebuilt the league from 5 to 24 franchises in the United States and Canada.

From 1969 to 1983, Woosnam also served as a Vice President of the USSF. He created the plan for Pele to join the New York Cosmos in 1975 and to be the spokesperson and image for soccer in the United States. Woosnam was a key influence in the 1983 and 1987 World Cup bids by the USSF, and from 1983 to 1992 he served as the Chairman of the company handling USSF marketing. Woosnam then served as the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games (ACOG) Venue Competitions Manager in Athens, GA where the 1996 Olympic soccer semifinals and finals for men and women were held in the University of Georgia’s 86,000 seat stadium. He drew staff mostly from the ranks of administrators, coaches and officials of the Georgia State Soccer Association (GSSA).

Woosnam's legacy and value to Georgia soccer is unmistakable.  Throughout his career, he advocated for soccer with local groups and volunteers and motivated his players to be advocates and soccer missionaries. Ten of the 1968 Atlanta Chiefs then became coaches of national and/or professional teams. He was deservedly inducted into the US National Soccer Hall of Fame in Oneonta, New York, in June 1997 and into the Georgia Soccer Hall of Fame that same year.