By Michael Lewis

FrontRowSoccer.com Editor

Luis Dabo, a former Rochester Lancers assistant coach who also directed several indoor soccer teams, including the Buffalo Stallions, has passed away.

Dabo was believed to have been in his early 80s.

Born in Guinea-Bissau, Dabo played soccer for 11 years in Portugal before venturing to Canada. He also had coached in 26 countries.

“I had a lot of speed and good skills,” Dabo told the Arizona Republic in 1997.

“My Dad passed on peacefully – but certainly not without putting up a fight – this evening,” his son, Nick Tillia posted on his Facebook page late Friday, Pacific time.

“My Dad LIVED such a full, amazing, and accomplished life. He did and experienced things beyond what most of us could ever even imagine. He brought his infectious joy and passion into everything that he did and I’ve never known anybody to have impacted people in the way that he has. He never held anything back. He loved and coached all of us with his whole heart and spirit!”

Tributes came flowing in from former players on Facebook.

“RIP. We had a lot of fun as my coach in Buffalo and against you in Toronto,” one-time Stallions captain Jim Sinclair wrote.

“RIP, Luis, good man and a great coach,” said former Stallion Pat Occhiuto.

“RIP Coach Dabo …. I thank you for getting my career started with KC Comets in 1981-82 … You will be missed,” former Kansas City Comets player Austin Hudson said.

“Love and Respect to a great Man, Father, Coach, Friend,” indoor standout defender David D’Errico said.

“Rest In Peace coach Dabo. May your memory be a blessing,” former New York United player Solomon Hilton said.

Other soccer personalities commented about Dabo’s passing.

“Terrific person and a soccer man. Prayers and condolences,” former U.S. men’s national team and indoor soccer coach John Kowalski wrote on Facebook.

“A special man, coach, and friend! Thoughts and prayers with his family,” former Chicago Sting general manager Jim Walker said.

“Great man & coach! Very sorry for your loss!” said SoccerSam Fantauzzo, owner of the modern-day Lancers.

Dabo was the definition of a soccer man. In his north Phoenix home years ago, he had many pictures of his soccer travels and career. Perhraps his proudest was a photo of Dabo standing next to Pele, which was next to his living room television.

He was fluent in six languages – Portuguese, French, Spanish, Italian, Ciroulo and English. That allowed him to teach soccer players of many nationalities the finer points of the game.

Dabo was raised in Portugal as his mother Nhima and former Portuguese Fernando Vaz helped mold him as a as a person and player.

His three brothers were a judge, a doctor and a priest. Instead of following in a similar path, Dabo dropped out of medical school to become a professional soccer player.

He played as a right wing in Portuguese leagues for a dozen years.

Dabo was an assistant to Lancers head coach  Don Popovic during the 1976 North American Soccer League season before he was fired by the team in 1977, when it reached its quota of visas. Dabo had helped five Portuguese players on the team to obtain theirs.

He also was an assistant Stallions coach to one-time Lancers head coach Sal DeRosa during the Stallions’ inaugural campaign in 1979.

Besides the Stallions, Dabo also directed the Chicago Horizons and Kansas City Comets in the Major Indoor Soccer League and  the Chicago Shoccers in the American Indoor Soccer Association and Arizona Sandsharks in the Continental Indoor Soccer League.

As a head coach, Dabo could be demanding. As son of a Marine, he wanted discipline and organization on his team, especially during practices.

“Either they’re going to adapt to it or they’re not going to be here,” Dabo was quoted by the Sandsharks prior to the 1997 CISL season. “To me, life is a simple thing. We can stand here making excuses or stand here doing something abbout what we’re facing. I don’t have time for excuses.”

While watching Sandsharks training that year, Dabo remained silent.

“He’s calm until something necessitates that he comes out of his shell,” team captain Jason Vanacour told the Republic.

Added Dabo: “Most of the time, I don’t say much. When I say something, I want it to have an impact on the players. They know when I scream that I’m seriously upset about something. Otherwise, there’s no time to do that.”

In 1986, Dabo created the Santos Futbol Clube in Arizona. The club helped give many players the opportunity to play in college and professionally.

“To play in Santos demands too much,” Dabo told the Republic in 2004. “I’m not looking for championships. I’m not looking for glory. I just want to give the kids the opportunity to grow and excel and get better.”

Some players excelled and even soared.

According to the Santos website, some of the players that Dabo has helped train included former U.S. international Pablo Mastroeni, the current Real Salt Lake head coach, Chicago Fire defender Evan Whitfield and Major League Soccer goalkeeper Scott Garlick, among others.

Dabo is survived  by his children and grandchilden.