Paul LeSueur (left), along with Shep Messing, Kim Wyant and Chris Armas at a Long Island Soccer Player Hall of Fame dinner. (Photo courtesy of Kevin McCrudden)
By Michael Lewis
Paul LeSueur, a soccer renaissance man whose career as a player, coach and administrator spanned decades in virtually every facet of the game, passed away Monday after suffering a stroke last week.
LeSueur suffered a stroke while talking to children during Sports Night at the Waldorf School in Garden City, N.Y. last Wednesday. It was believed LeSueur was 70 or 71.
A thoughtful and gregarious man who combined his wit and humor with experience and sage advice, LeSeuer participated in soccer at the amateur, high school, college and professional levels.
He was a member of the 1972 Cosmos team that captured its first North American Soccer League championship. Le Sueur, who wore No. 9 with the Cosmos, several years before Giorgio Chinaglia joined the squad, was one of the first Americans to compete for the NASL side. While he did not play much with that Cosmos team, LeSueur’s impact with the Long Island soccer community would grow over the next four-plus decades.
For his accomplishments, LeSueur was inducted into the Long Island Soccer Football League Hall of Fame and the Long Island Soccer Player Hall of Fame.
“Paul LeSueur was a Long Island soccer legend,” said Kevin McCrudden, founder of the Long Island Soccer Player Hall of Fame. “As a member of the New York Cosmos, he brought a legitimacy to his coaching because he played at such a high level.
“However, because he was so humble and such a gentleman, you would never know his level of success on the soccer field. Paul was a member of the first class of the Long Island with his more famous teammate, Shep Messing.
“Because of Paul’s unprecedented leadership and reputation, we asked him to become the first executive director of the Long Island Soccer Player Hall of Fame, which he graciously accepted.
“I personally will miss his mentorship, guidance and sage advice. We have lost a legendary soccer figure on Long Island with the loss of Paul LeSueur.”
Paul Le Sueur, wearing No. 9 (upper right row) in a Cosmos team photo with all the trophies they earned that NASL season.
LeSueur also played on soccer teams from Garden City and Lynbrook Steuben in the Long Island Soccer Football League.
The long-time Garden City, N.Y. native was an athletic director of The Waldorf School in that same town from 2007-13. He led the Waldorf varsity boys team to three IPPSAL Championships (2008, 2010 and 2012). He even coached basketball, as he and boys head coach Joe McMahon directed the squad to the IPPSAL crown in 2011.
Shane Flanagan, who succeeded LeSueur as Waldorf athletic director, said the former Cosmos player “gave a touching recap of the varsity girls basketball season that he had coached this past Winter. He was Paul until the end, a coach true and true.”
“He was truly a legend of the sport here on Long Island and his legacy will live on through his former players, as well as his many grandkids and the individuals whose lives he touched,” Flanagan added.
“Over the years we have had a very close relationship and his passing has been a very difficult one.
“We were truly blessed to have had him in our lives and I am a better man having known him.”
Le Sueur also was the head men’s soccer coach at C.W. Post for several and most recently served as an assistant coach for the past four years for the New York University men’s team.
His soccer expertise also spanned the sexes as he was employed by the New York Power in the Women’s United Soccer Association in the early 2000’s.
Working more recently under Kim Wyant, one of the rare women coaching a Division I men’s soccer team, LeSueur’s duties included game management and recruiting.
“What a legacy,” Wyant said about LeSueur’s accomplishments in general.
“We’ve been almost joined at the hip these last five years and I’m grateful for every single minute and I hope to live up to the standards he set. He was pure, and kind, with impenetrable integrity. One of the greatest of all time.”
Paul LeSueur (right) graduated from Springfield College. (Photo courtesy of Kim Wyant)
Paul Riley, coach of the North Carolina Courage, the 2018 National Women’s Soccer League champions, succeeded LeSueur at Post.
“Paul was the reason I started coaching,” Riley said. “Class act, great personality, fabulous player, tremendous man manager and family man extraordinaire. Paul was a mentor for me and we spent many a conversation over a cup of tea. He will be missed and loved forever. Love and prayers to Liz and the entire family. He was a legendary great man who was humble, kind and very loving. God bless Paulie Rest In Peace.”
LeSueur graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in health, physical education and recreation from Springfield College in 1970. Playing for the soccer team, he earned All-American honors, was named the MVP of the NCAA Division II Regional Championships as a junior and served as co-captain in his senior year. He earned his Master of Science degree in athletic administration and sports management from Springfield in 1974.
Not surprisingly, LeSueur’s passing hit the Long Island soccer community hard.
Here is a sampling of what was said about LeSueur.
* “Paul will be missed by everyone in the soccer community,” said former Long Island Junior Soccer League president Addie Mattei. “He was one of the finest.”
* “He was a great man, a great family,” said LISFL president Gus Xikis. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. He will be missed.”
* Very sad news,” said former Adelphi University head coach Bob Montgomery. “So sudden. Too young.”
* “So sad. A truly wonderful man who will be missed,” Sue Ryan, a long-time respected coach in the Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association and Region I and at Stony Brook University, among other endeavors.
* “Pure class,” said soccer executive Jim Kilmeade, former general manager of the Long Island Rough Riders.
LeSueur also had a self-effacing humor.
During his tenure with the Cosmos, he battled for playing time. At the 1987 Nassau County high school awards dinner, LeSueur told a story about when he was on the team bench at Hofstra University. The crowd started to clamor for LeSueur as fans chanted, “We want LeSueur! We want LeSueur!”
Cosmos head coach Gordon Bradley could not have helped but notice and summoned the young LeSueur. LeSueur, thinking that he was going to get an opportunity to play, hurried over.
“LeSueur, I hear the crowd chanting your name,” Bradley said. “See what they want.”
He is survived by his wife Liz and his four children: Paul Jr., Sarah, and twins Peter and Bethany and several grandchildren.
Funeral arrangements were not immediately known.