US soccer star Landon Donovan has been awarded the inaugural Walt Chyzowych Distinguished Playing Careeer Award, according to reports.
The Major League Soccer star picked up the award at the National Soccer Coaches Association of America convention in Los Angeles this year.
The event used to be for a lifetime achievement in soccer, usually for a coach but this year had a new twist in it being awarded to a player. The location of the convention and the timing were all just in Donovan’s favour. There was no player that could have beaten him to it.
This year the winner of the Lifetime Achievement honour was longtime US national team programme coach Jay Hoffman.
Donovan was happy to receive the inaugural honour, speaking at length at the event about how he look up the achievements of Chyzowych on American soccer from the 1960s to the 1980s. He spoke of how persistent he was despite the game being invisible to mainstream sports landscape.
“It makes me appreciative of what I’ve been allowed to do. We needed that platform, and Walt helped give that platform,” the MLS veteran said.
The organizers hope that the award would help inspire others to follow the path of Chyzowych. It was Bruce Arena – former LA Galaxy coach and current national team boss – that presented the award to Donovan.
After the ceremony, Arena said: “We always talk about our young generation that doesn’t realize all the hard work that went into bringing the sport to where it is today. That’s who Walt was, and to have our great player Landon Donovan recognize Walt’s contribution to the game is fantastic.”
US Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati who was in attendance also spoke about people learning from Walt.
“I think that’s very special [of Donovan learning and appreciating Chyzowych’s wok]. It’s a great tribute to everything Walter did and everything Landon is.”