By Michael Lewis Editor

Ron Newman lived, ate and breathed an outstanding soccer career that spanned 45 years as a player and a coach, which included 13 clubs, four American leagues and 12 indoor and outdoor championships.

That was only the tip of the Englishman’s soccer iceberg.

Newman’s success could be attributed to his soccer knowledge, motivational skills and his ability to get his point across to players and a sense to find humor in many, if not all situations.

Newman passed away Monday morning in Tampa, Fla. He was 82. (born Jan. 19, 1936)

For the record, Newman finished with a 753-296-27 mark in both versions of the game.

He is best known for coaching the San Diego Sockers to 10 titles over 11 NASL and Major Indoor Soccer League seasons, finishing his indoor career with the Arizona Sandsharks in the Continental Indoor Soccer League and the Kansas City Wizards (now Sporting Kansas City) in Major League Soccer.

“Humor to him was a good thing to break tension, get people what he wanted,” his son Guy Newman said in a 2016 interview. “He didn’t want to get people on defense, so he used humor to get his point across and be positive. He realized players. The players play at a high-level game. They were nervous and all that. You don’t want to make them more nervous. Nervous players don’t play as well. You have to play with confidence and be ready to play in a good state. He was very good at that.”

Not surprisingly Newman’s humor diffused many a controversial scenario. In 1979, FIFA had denied Northern Ireland international George Best from participating in the Strikers’ North American Soccer League season opener because Fulham of the English League claimed he did fulfill a contractual agreement. After the ban was lifted, Best started against the New England Tea Men but was replaced in the second half.

As he walked off the field, an angry Best took off his shirt and threw it into Newman’s face.

“How can I get fit if I’m taken out 29 minutes before the game is over,” Best told Soccer Digest. To which Newman replied with a grin: “I always wanted one of his shirts. He’s an Irishman with a hot bloody temper and we forgive all Irishmen.”

Another coach might have had some stern words on the spot and added further fuel to the fire.

“In this day and age, it wouldn’t be a big deal,” Guy Newman said. “In those days, players didn’t like being substituted and Best said: ‘You’re taking me off and nobody has ever taken me off.’ If he gets all upset, they have to suspend George Best again. That’s not good for George, that’s not good for anybody. He had to make light of the whole situation … so it quieted down. Everybody laughed. George was all right. He played the next game and all of a sudden everything was fine. He had to do something, so he used humor to deflect the situation.”

Newman was a players’ coach. Ray Hudson, a beIN soccer analyst, who played for Newman with the Strikers, explained why players loved playing for him.

“He didn’t show any great stress or strain in the job,” he said. “It wasn’t a case of him of sitting on the sidelines and not looking stressed out. You see any picture of him with the Fort Lauderdale Strikers. It was tough work. He worked the sidelines hard. I’m not sure how many players were aware of it that this man is having an influence on you at the time. You realize it long after the event, where you realize how good he did and the manner in which he did it. All the players had affection for him as the boss. you didn’t go home and think how wonderful he was. You looked forward to coming into work to enjoy. He always created that atmosphere. That atmosphere he created was always successful, so you are always going to take something away from the successful that you work for.”

Born Jan. 19, 1932, Newman’s passion was football. After performing for Woking, a non-league team, he wound up playing as a hard-working outside left or right wing for four English League clubs — Portsmouth, Leyton Orient, Crystal Palace and Gillingham — before America came calling.

Actually, Newman was ready to continue his career in South Africa as Eddie Firmani, who went on to guide the New York Cosmos to a pair of Soccer Bowl titles, tried to convince the 34-year-old to journey south before Phil Woosnam, interceded.

Woosnam, who had played at Leyton Orient in London before Newman did, was going to the United States to become  player-coach of the Atlanta Chiefs of the fledgling National Professional Soccer League. He needed experienced players and Newman fit the bill.

“He lived in a house that Phil Woosnam lived in before him was a club house; the club owned the house,” Guy Newman said. “He moved in after Phil Woosnam left. He would get Phil Woosnam’s mail all the time so he would have to go to Phil’s. So, as he was about to go to South Africa, [Woosnam] said, ‘Look don’t go there. I’ve got something for you — America. They’re going to start this new league. Why don’t you come to America?’ My dad says, ‘That sounds pretty good. Maybe that will be an option.’ ”

Of course, Newman had to do some convincing to his family and a skeptical son.

“I just made my school team and I was playing and all of that,” Guy Newman said. “I was excited staying in England. He said, ‘We might go to America.’ And I said, ‘They don’t play it, they don’t play the game.’ He said, ‘Well, I know. We’re going to teach them how to play the game.’ I really didn’t want to go. He finally convinced me that it would be pretty cool to go because they had color TV in America. In England, families had black and white TV, so he said, ‘I’ll get the family a color TV.’ So we all decided to go. I probably would have gone anyway.”

It was an historic decision for so many reasons. Newman played two seasons with the Chiefs under Woosnan, who became NASL commissioner, before moving to Dallas to take on the coaching reins of the Dallas Tornado from 1969-75. He guided the Tornado to the 1971 North American Soccer League title.

A year after leaving Dallas, Newman moved over to the rival American Soccer League and directed the Los Angeles Skyhawks to the 1976 crown before opportunity knocked with the Fort Lauderdale Strikers in 1977. He coached the team for three season before keeping his career alive with the Miami Americans of the ASL in 1980.

Opportunity came knocking again in 1981 with the NASL Sockers. They fared well outdoors, but it was indoors where Newman made his mark as the team reeled off 10 championships, most of which were in the MISL.

Newman became the first coach signed by Major League Soccer — in Kansas City Wiz, which made its debut in 1996; he was fired after a poor start to the 1999 season and never coached again.

It was little surprise that Newman has been inducted into six halls of Fame. The list includes the National Soccer Hall of Fame, the U.S. Indoor Soccer Hall of Fame, Atlanta Hall of Fame, San Diego Hall of Champions (his star is in the walkway of the San Diego Sports Arena, between Frank Sinatra and Bette Midler), the USL Hall of Fame and the Dallas Walk of Fame.

Newman and his wife, Olive, had been living with his daughter Tracey’s family in Land O’Lakes, Fla.

There were no immediate details on funeral arrangements.