George Tarantini had a successful 25-year run at NC State. (Photo courtesy of former LIU men’s coach Arnie Ramirez)

George Tarantini, who coached the North Carolina State men’s soccer team for 25 years, has passed away.

He was 66.

Tarantini was born in Italy and grew up in Argentina before emigrating to New York in rather unusual way. The story goes that his plane stopped in New York on the way home to Argentina. He got off and never left.

After working some constructions jobs, George Tarantini began his coaching career at Arlington High School in LaGrange, N.Y. He went onto be an assistant coach at Dutchess Community College from 1977-80 before taking on similar responsibilities at NC State from 1982-85.

He was named coach for the 1986 season and directed the Wolfpack until 2010, recording a 221-190-41 career mark.

Tarantini was named Atlantic Coast Conference coach of the year in 1992 and 1994 and was NCAA regional coach of the year in 1994.

In 1990, Tarantini directed the Wolfpack (17-4-2) to the ACC crown. The team reached the Final Four, losing to UCLA on penalty kicks.

Tarantini coached a dozen All-Americans at N.C. State, including former U.S. international midfielder and current U.S. Under-20 national coach Tab Ramos, one of the best American players, plus internationals Roy Lassiter, Pablo Mastroeni and Henry Gutierrez.

“So sorry to hear that my good friend George Tarantini has died,” former LIU men’s head coach Arnie Ramirez said on his Facebook page. “RIP amigo. In the early 80’s we were two of four Latinos coaching Division 1 programs.”

Robert Gibbs, who was President Obama’s press secretary, played for Tarantini.

“We, as a team, didn’t always know what he was doing but coach was always a step ahead of us,” Gibbs was quoted by the Raleigh News & Observer. “His ability to take a bunch of kids and turn us into what we were in 1990 was nothing short of amazing.”

Former Duke University head coach John Rennie, who once coached at Columbia University, was one of Tarantini’s best friends. Their teams had some classic confrontations when they played in the ACC. He recalled to the Raleigh News & Observer when he first communicated with Tarantini.

“He called me out of the blue,” he said. “I could hardly understand him. But that was George, if you ever talked to him or met him, you remembered him.”

He is the older brother of Alberto Tarantini, who played for Argentina on its 1978 World Cup championship team. Alberto scored a goal in a 6-0 win over Peru.

And here’s another story you might be interested in:

THROW BACK THURSDAY: These ACC coaches are enemies on the field, but fast friends off of it

Front Row Soccer editor Michael Lewis has covered 13 World Cups (eight men, five women), seven Olympics and 25 MLS Cups. He has written about New York City FC, New York Cosmos, the New York Red Bulls and both U.S. national teams for Newsday and has penned a soccer history column for the Lewis, who has been honored by the Press Club of Long Island and National Soccer Coaches Association of America, is the former editor of He has written seven books about the beautiful game and has published ALIVE AND KICKING The incredible but true story of the Rochester Lancers. It is available at