It was sad day for Pittsburgh soccer fans. Especially those who had the opportunity to watch the Pittsburgh Spirit in the 1980s.
Stan Terlecki, who was an absolute scoring machine for the Spirit back during the indoor soccer team’s fabled heyday, passed away at the age of 62 in his native Poland early Thursday according release from the Polish Football Association and multiple European news reports.
As the news spread, mostly through social media, many in Pittsburgh expressed their condolences — and fondly remembered the goal-scoring star.
And for younger soccer fans who never saw Terlecki play — our friend Patrick McCarthy put together this clip earlier this evening of some of his 184 goals when wearing black and gold Spirit kit.
Yes — that’s right — in four seasons with the Spirit, Terlecki amassed an astounding 184 tallies with powerful legs and ability to snap quick shots from both feet that his teammate Paul Child once described “like a metal leaf spring when you pull it back and let it go ‘poing’, it’s that quick.”
Terlecki, who had 29 caps and seven goals for the Polish national team prior to coming to Pittsburgh in 1981, was an outspoken personality who boldly took stands and openly critized the Polish and Soviet Union communist governments.
In Pittsburgh, he made many fans during the Spirit’s run that drew more fans than the pre-Lemieux Penguins at the Civic Arena.
Tribune-Review‘s Matt Grubba caught up with former Spirit assistant coach and fellow Polish native who became a life-long friend of Terlecki’s, John Kowalski earlier today.
“I kept up with him and with his two sons, but it was becoming more and more difficult because of his illnesses,” Kowalski, who coaches the women’s team at Robert Morris nowadays, said. “I just spoke with his son, Maciej, and he said (his father) died last night in his sleep, most likely from some kind of heart condition or heart attack.”
Before returning to his home Poland in 1986, Terlecki also played with the San Jose Earthquakes and New York Cosmos in both the MISL and NASL.
In the coming week, look for more on Terlecki’s life and impact in Pittsburgh here both on Pittsburgh Soccer Report and DK Pittsburgh Sports.
If you have any memories to share about ‘Stan the Fran’ feel free to share with us here in the comments section or send us an email firstname.lastname@example.org