Tony Miola, the American football legend who tried to reach the NFL
The great protagonist of ’90’s Italy and USA 94′, Tony left an inclination at the height of his soccer career to dedicate himself to American football.
If you think of American sports, football might not be the first thing that comes to mind. Football, basketball and baseball have been our homes for years, and they tell us about America and a way to experience a sport completely different from ours.
However, if today it was unusual to see American players arriving in Europe or players from all over the world accessing MLS, there was a period, among other things, that lasted for several decades, in which he was known almost simply. Inconsistent ‘to match the words football e USA.
It is also for this reason when i World championships The organization is in Italy, and among the teams that attracted the most attention was the American team. The United States of America In fact, they hadn’t qualified for the World Cup since 1950, so watch “Stars and stripes” It was just an attraction.
Indeed, for the many who wondered whether these players would be able to compete against the best in the world, there were those who had already anticipated at that time with absolute certainty so many goals that were recognized and the meager numbers set to remain in history.
The curiosity of the Italian fans soon convinced. The United State They were actually listed with ItalyAnd Czechoslovakia Ed Austria In the first set, and although the men led by Bob Gansler had made their debut with a heavy 5-1 loss in Florence against Skuhravy and his team-mates, in the remaining two matches against the Azzurrians and the Austrians, they actually proved not that bad to treat two honorable defeats and measure.
That of Italy 90 It was the World Cup that history set for another special: there were many great figures who were shown at that tournament. Each national team had its own cover, and if for Italy the symbol of Magic Nights is a surprise Toto Shelachi, she was MaradonaAnd MatthewsAnd MilesAnd GascoigneAnd StojkovicAnd JulietAnd Zavarov e Valderrama, Just to name a few, the heroes who highlighted them.
a star United State Their guard was: Tony Miola. Long hair, a massive body, an Italian title, and even a certain skill in between jobs helped make it One of the most beloved characters of the World Cup finals.
Little is known about him, except that he mostly played both at college and his father’s level Vincenzo He was from Torrela de Lombardi and he played inAvellino, Before moving with his family to the United States.
In fact, behind the 21-year-old Mulla, there was a path in the world of sports much more complex and made up of stages that led him to be considered a potential champion in various disciplines. During high school, he showed himself as a goalkeeper, managing to keep his goal clean on 41 occasions, but he was also an excellent striker capable of scoring 42 goals. He was also the captain of the college basketball team and above all he attracted attention New York Yankees To whom he was also offered a hunting contract.
Football, basketball and baseball, Tony Miola He had amply demonstrated that he could excel in various disciplines, but in the end he chose the one that was least practiced in the United States and this also to the delight of his father.
“When we qualified for the World Cup, we did not even understand the scope of the mission. The news also spread that if we did not succeed, FIFA could review the mission for the 1994 World Cup. Within a few months I found myself on campus playing the World Cup in my father’s country. Among other things. Against Italy. Italy made me 90 famous. “
If the Italian World Cup made him kind of an international celebrity, then his performance A. United States 94 Help him become an American football legend. In fact, his national team appeared in the world championships with greater ambitions and was not only the most prominent man in that group, but also the captain of the team.
This time the United States will succeed in qualifying for the knockout stage thanks to a draw against it SwitzerlandHistoric victory against one Colombia He is considered by many to be one of the most talented teams in the tournament, and lost by a narrow margin Romania.
Then the US Round of 16 trip stops against that Brazil Who will then become the world champion (1-0 with a goal from Bebeto in the 72nd minute), but now the remarkable goal of the top of world football has been achieved: Football has never been more popular in the United States.
Hence, Mula has the potential to become a top-tier superstar, in addition to being the face of it MLS Which was already established in 1993 and which was to officially begin in 1996, but only when his career was about to take on more important and specific milestones did he announce an exciting decision: He wants to leave football to devote himself to American football.
Bora Milutinovic, The United States coach at the time, is not getting things right: he will no longer call him on the national team during his tenure. But now nothing can push a tendency to look back, and that’s also because waiting for him there is a possibility to join a team NFL: I New York Jets.
Only that year National Football League He was thinking of moving a streak Starting 35 to 30 yards and lower ‘TeeSo the idea of the aircraft was to assess whether Tendencies, Who during his career has shown that he has a very powerful kick that often delayed the opponent’s penalty area, could be able to move the oval ball as he was able to get the soccer ball to fly off his foot.
So Tony Mulea should have played whoKicker“And in the ideas of” special teams “technicians could touch the kick-off, while the legendary Nick Lowry, Which was now heading towards 38 springs and lost a portion of its strength, should have been limited to ‘Field goal, Or kicking between columns.
The goalkeeper’s decision was severely criticized by many, because at the same moment he was about to explode, Football has reinvented itself as an orphanBut now the process “Pony Tail Place Kicker(So it was renamed in honor of Miyola’s famous ‘ponytail’) she’s left.
“The World Cup had just ended and they called me a traitor. They said it was because of me that the dream of football in America was in danger of death. They said that the fame that football gave me was not enough, that I was troubled and that my real goal was to reach Hollywood.”
Meola joins the Jets for Pre-seasonUnfortunately for him things do not turn out as he had dreamed of. His shots would neither prove powerful nor accurate, so much so that due to his tendency to always kick to the left, he would earn a title ‘Captain Hook’.
To make matters even more complicated for him also the fact that his teammate Lori no longer has the power he had before, but in terms of accuracy he is remembered as one of the best ever. In short, the comparison becomes ruthless.
In fact, Mola needs very little to understand that football must be kicked in a completely different way than football and that there are very few connections between the two technical gestures.
“This is not impossible, but it is not as easy as it seems. Among other things, kicking is one thing, the other is doing it while a big boy of 150 kg is running against you at full speed. If you kick a soccer ball badly, you still send it fifty away There is no common ground. There is the same difference between kicking the ball and a coin of 50 cents. “
Despite efforts, Mola will be cut after only three pre-season matches. The idea on paper wasn’t bad, but the process failed miserably.
“I have fulfilled the dream, even if it does not last long. However, I must say that playing football is more fun than just throwing the ball.”
Closed with football and the possibility of playing in the NFL has disappeared, he will return to his first love and truly become a face of the NFL, wearing jerseys New York MetroStarsAnd Kansas City Wizards e New York Red Bulls.
He will miss the 1998 World Cup Finals, but he will find the national team the following year, and although he has lost his status as an immobile holder, he will be able to participate in 2002 World Championships (As a third goalkeeper) In 2006, the year of his retirement from professional football, he made 100 appearances for the United States. To this day, he is considered one of the first true football stars in addition to being a legendary legend in his country.
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