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OBITUARY: Bob Kap (1923-2010)
by Paul Kennedy, March 19th, 2010 1:31AM

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Bob Kap, who died on Sunday at the age of 87, is best known as the godfather of soccer-style kickers, but he was also an American soccer pioneer, who took the Dallas Tornado on the longest tour in the history of soccer -- six months with games in 19 countries on five continents, including two games in Vietnam at the height of the Vietnam War.

The tour was supposed to prepare the Tornado for the inaugural NASL season, but it finished the '68 season with a 2-26-4 record and Kap resigned as coach.

Of the 18 players -- all but one foreigners decked out in cowboy hats -- only Englishman Mike Renshaw would go on to play with the Tornado when it grew in later years. But the team of no-names still drew crowds of upward of 100,000 a game at a time when few teams traveled the world.

The trip began in dramatic fashion when the players missed their flight from Athens to Cyprus, because they were sightseeing. The plane they were supposed to be on was blown up in mid-air in a terrorist attack.

Soccer-style placekickers were already in the NFL when Kap went to the Dallas Cowboys and introduced them to Austrian Toni Fritsch.

He would go on to bring eight other European soccer players to the NFL as a placekickers.

A decade after his involvement in the NASL, Kap made international headlines when he formed a syndicate and tried to acquire Argentina star Ricardo Villa. It wasn't like today when South Americans move frequently abroad.

Kap's bid failed, and Villa and Argentine teammate Ozzie Ardiles then headed to England to play for Tottenham.

In later years, Kap became an accomplished painter. His works hang in the NFL Hall of Fame.



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