The Tampa Bay Rowdies, whose tradition and history will be the subject of a forthcoming World Soccer Talk video documentary, announced this week they would retire the kit number of legendary defender Mike Connell who played ten seasons with the club in the original North American Soccer League (NASL).
“Mike was with the Rowdies for its entire original NASL history and he embodied the passion, skill, and determination the Rowdies have always been known for,” said Rowdies CEO and General Manager Andrew Nestor. “His commitment to excellence is forever remembered through the 1975 Soccer Bowl Championship victory and subsequent success that made the Rowdies an iconic American soccer brand. But the Rowdies are about more than just the playing field. After his days playing for the Rowdies, Mike became an integral part in the youth soccer explosion in Tampa Bay and continues teaching the game today. I’m pleased that on August 10, a special night when the Rowdies host the New York Cosmos for the first time since Mike’s last season in 1984, the club gets to celebrate Mike Connell with the ultimate recognition – the retirement of his #6 jersey.”
Connell, who moved from South Africa to Florida at age 18 to play for the Rowdies, became a playing legend in the Tampa Bay community and has continued to reside in the area and has continued to be active in local soccer.
Connell, who spent several months on trial at Arsenal at the age of 17, became a “one-club man” after leaving his South African side in 1975 at 18 and spending the rest of his career with the Rowdies.
World Soccer Talk’s documentary about the Tampa Bay Rowdies will be released in the next few weeks.