Scotsman Jimmy Gabriel, whose family confirmed on Saturday that he passed away at the age of 80, won the English First Division title in 1963 and the FA Cup in 1966 with Everton, but he is perhaps best known for his pioneering career with the Seattle Sounders.
Gabriel joined the Sounders for their first season in 1974 and served as player-coach in 1977 when they lost to the New York Cosmos, 2-1, in the Soccer Bowl, Pele's last official match. He later managed Bournemouth and Everton but returned in 1997 to Seattle, where he worked behind the scenes as a coach, at the youth level (Lake Washington Youth Soccer Association), in college (University of Washington assistant) and with the A-League and USL-1 Sounders (serving as an assistant to Brian Schmetzer).
“I am saddened to learn of Jimmy’s passing," Schmetzer, who joined the Sounders out of high school in 1980, a year after Gabriel played his last game. "Today we lost an incredible mentor and friend. Jimmy’s influence on my overall view of life through the game is vast, and there’s no doubt that without his counsel I would not be the same person and coach. I am better in life having known Jimmy, and he will be missed by so many people he touched. I am thinking of his family today and wish them peace in knowing that Jimmy’s impact will never be forgotten.”
Those early Sounders teams with Gabriel also touched current Sounders owner Adrian Hanauer.
“Today’s news is a heavy blow for anyone that loves soccer in our community," he said. "Jimmy Gabriel was beloved in this region, and our sport would not be where it is here today without his influence. Jimmy was integral to those early NASL Sounders teams, which inspired me in my youth and played a major role in my own journey with this club. Jimmy embodied all that is great about our game: he was passionate in everything he did surrounding the sport, but was always humble and a joy to be around. We will miss him dearly, but his legacy lives on here in this community.”