July usually sees major soccer clubs the world over take flight to embark on their respective summer tours. Generally, these are exercises in connecting with the global fan base, maintaining and raising profiles and of course getting some match practice in preparation for the new season.
It’s safe to say that none of these clubs could even begin to imagine let alone experience the amazing world tour that the Dallas Tornado undertook in 1967. It was a journey that spanned five continents taking the team to 25 countries and saw them play 48-matches.
The Tornado players narrowly avoided an air disaster on their way to Cyprus, had to trek through the Bengali jungle at the dead of night and play in Vietnam in the midst of the war to name but a few notable incidents.
Their extraordinary tour is chronicled in The Amazing World Tour of the Dallas Tornado and tells the tale of 16 young soccer players who just wanted to play the game no matter where the pitch was.
50 years on from that incredible voyage the members of the Dallas Tornado held a reunion in Chester, UK and discussed the highs and lows of their seven-month tour. They recalled their affection for manager Bob Kap, spoke their admiration of the vision of the Dallas Tornado owner, Lamar Hunt and of course reminisced about the soccer tour that changed their lives forever.
Jan Book, the Tornado’s number 14, summed up the feelings of the players as he recounted his and their memories for World Soccer Talk.
World Soccer Talk: 50 years on from such an amazing journey. What’s the first thing you felt when meeting your teammates again?
Jan Book: Hard to believe it’s been 50 years, it just seems it was a few years ago. Some of us have not seen each other in 48 years, but it seems we just picked up where we left off. A wonderful feeling of brothers being united again. Very emotional and many tears of joy. Someone called us the “Band of Brothers”. It was a very special bond that was developed between the players. We only had each other on the tour. We had to stick together, in good and bad. We trusted and relied on each other. The love for each other never left us. Strangely enough our spouses connected in a very similar way, at the reunion, even though most of them had never met before.