The late Tony Suarez,
a Charlotte native who was inducted posthumously, was inducted
into the North Carolina Soccer Hall of Fame on Jan. 21,
2012, along with Charlotte’s Bill Finneyfrock and
former UNC Chapel Hill men’s soccer coach Elmar Bolowich.
The Class of 2012 brings the N.C. Soccer Hall of Fame membership
Suarez was born in Havana, Cuba,
the fourth of 12 children. His family moved to Honduras
from Cuba to escape communism, and in his three years there
Suarez learned to play soccer in the streets. The family
moved to the U.S. in 1972 and settled in Charlotte when
Suarez was 16 years old.
He played high school soccer at Myers Park HS for three
years, was team captain for two seasons and was the Mustangs’
MVP his senior year. He went on to play college soccer at
Appalachian State, and finished his college career at Belmont
Suarez tried out for the Lightnin’ in 1981, but did
not make the team. He stayed on as the bus driver and doer
of whatever else needed to be done. Injuries and suspensions
opened a roster spot for him. Once he got on the field it
was magic. He scored nine goals in his first 12 games, earned
a spot in the ASL All-Star Game where he was named the MVP.
He finished the season with 15 goals in 22 games, and was
named the MVP of the championship game as the Lightnin’
beat New York United 2-1 in overtime before a crowd of 20,183
at Charlotte’s Memorial Stadium.
He played an indoor season for the MISL Cleveland Force,
but tore his ACL and MCL in his left knee eight games into
the season. While playing for the Charlotte Gold in 1984,
another injury to his right knee ended his professional
Suarez passed away in 2007 at the age of 51.
Also at the 2012 Hall of Fame induction, the NC Soccer Hall
of Fame will recognize the Carolina Lightnin’ 1981
American Soccer League Champions as recipients of the inaugural
“National Champions Hall of Honor” award.
Suarez's HOF Induction Bio