On this great 4th of July 2023, while pondering the amazing and unparalleled promises of this nation, I must also mourn the loss of a wonderful human being and friend, Vincenzo D’Amico. D’Amico was an outstanding soccer player for Lazio in the Italian Serie A, but he was so much more.
For the few years that I knew Vincenzo, we coached together numerous times at the World Youth Soccer Academy at Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida. We also spent many a lunch and dinner together. For three straight years, Vincenzo flew from Rome to Orlando with his wife and children to help us with our youth soccer camps there from 1999 to 2002. Even in the era following the dreaded September 11th tragedy, Vincenzo wholeheartedly participated in our intense soccer instructional programs while enduring the sweltering heat of Florida throughout the month of July.
Unlike many other former stars, though, Vincenzo was on the field almost the entire time. He never thought that he was above anyone else, or that his stardom should be applauded. He believed in the cause of empowering and educating youth soccer players, and he gave endlessly of his talents to the young soccer players who wanted to partake in his extraordinary, profound, and earnest soccer instruction. There was much to be learned from the former soccer great who adorned Italian fields and foreign pitches for many years.
I had first met Vincenzo when I was training with the first team of Lazio in 1983. At that time, the inimitable Giorgio Chinaglia allowed me to be with the team and experience the joy, wonder, and amazement of practicing with a world-class team. Apart from Vincenzo—or “Vincenzino” as some called him admiringly (and also intended as a term of endearment)—there were the likes of Michael Laudrup, Bruno Giordano, and Joao Batista on the field. Needless to say, I did not match up with their talent or skills. But I was allowed to be present on the field with them—at the same time, and while living a lifelong dream (even if for a fleeting moment in time).
Vincenzo never forgot his humble origins, nor did he forget his manners. He was kind to all, and treated everyone with the same dignity, decency, and respect.
Still, it was not Vincenzino’s incomparable and enviable “touch on the ball” that made him so great. It was his humility, his sincerity, his smile. Even though he could often seem distant at various intervals while on the field, his heart was always grand. He had a quiet sense of decency, both on the pitch and off. His keen and dry humor was a hallmark of his. Still—when considering the deepness of his stare on the field—it seemed as if he was contemplating so much more.
Indeed, I believe that there was a depth and a profundity to Vincenzino that not everyone possesses. There was a very reflective, contemplative, and insightful understanding of justice. If nothing else, Vincenzo was real—he was honest, earnest, and straight forward. He told you the truth, whether one liked it or not. He was genuine and authentic, and he tended to dislike some of the false pretense and posturing that went along with the game.
At the end of it all, he was happy to be on the field of play and sharing his soccer knowledge with whomever wanted to participate.
Caro Vincenzo: You will be missed. Un abbraccio forte, fratello. Che il Signore ti benedica sempre.