Soccer world loses Tony Waiters, 83, who led Canadian men to 1986 World Cup

Tony Waiters, who coached Canada to its only appearance at the World Cup and the Vancouver Whitecaps to the North American Soccer League Championship, has died. He was 83.

Canada Soccer called Waiters “a tremendous ambassador for the game.”

Waiters will be forever linked to one of Canada’s biggest soccer memories — qualification for the 1986 World Cup in Mexico. The Canadian men failed to score a goal or register a point but they held their own in games against mighty France, Hungary and the Soviet Union.

Under Waiters, the Canadian men also reached the quarter-finals of the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, eventually losing to Brazil in a penalty shootout.

A former England international goalkeeper, Waiters came to Canada to coach the Vancouver Whitecaps in 1977 after being fired as manager of Plymouth Albion. At the time, he thought he might only stay for a few months.

But Canada became his home, with the Whitecaps becoming a sensation after defeating the Tampa Bay Rowdies 2-1 in the 1979 Soccer Bowl.

Waiters lived most recently on British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast.