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Inspiring Canadians - In Sport and Life

Honoured Member

BRUCE WILSON

Inducted in 2000

Member Details

Date of Birth: June 20, 1951
Place of Birth: Vancouver, British Columbia
Sport: Soccer
Member Category: Athlete

Career Highlights

1974 - 1986

Canadian National Soccer Team, Captain of the team (1976-1986)

1980

Soccer Bowl - New York Cosmos

1985 - 1987

Player/Coach, Toronto Inex

1986

Led Canada to first appearance at World Cup

Honoured Member BRUCE WILSON
Inspire

Story

While soccer may be one of the most popular recreational sports in Canada, there few who choose to pursue it professionally, and even fewer who are able to crack the international ranks. Bruce Wilson is one of only a handful of Canadians who have taken their love of the game to next level and earned significant recognition on the international soccer scene. A native of Vancouver, B.C., Wilson played in local soccer leagues throughout his youth. He started his senior amateur career with Vancouver Columbus in the Western Canada Premier Soccer League before being selected to the B.C. All-Star team which, in 1970, competed inter-provincially for the Challenge Cup. Wilson turned down an offer to try out for the English professional leagues in order to pursue a degree in education at UBC, but, upon graduating in 1974, he decided to try his luck in the world of professional soccer on this side of the Atlantic. Offers came quickly. That same year, he was named to the Canadian national soccer team and selected to play with the Vancouver Whitecaps of the North American Soccer League. Wilson enjoyed a successful ten year career in the NASL, playing with the Whitecaps until 1977, the Chicago Sting from 1978 to 1980, the New York Cosmos in 1980, and the Toronto Blizzard from 1981 to 1984. In this time, he captained three of these teams and helped the Cosmos claim the Soccer Bowl in 1980. A true "Iron Man" on the field, Wilson played every minute of every league and playoff game over a six-year span, including a record 161 consecutive games between 1975 and 1980. This brilliant defenseman was also the first Canadian-born player to be selected to the North American Soccer League all-star team. He received this honour in five of his eleven seasons in play. In his role as captain of the Canadian national team, Wilson was often described as a "role model" and a "spiritual leader" both on and off the field. He took the helm in 1976 and, over the next ten years, helped forge new ground on the international soccer scene for the Canadian underdogs. In 1984, he led his team to the quarter-finals at the Los Angeles Olympics and, in 1986, he helped Canada qualify for the World Cup for the first time. This thrilling accomplishment was the highlight of Wilson's career. Though the team didn't make it past the first round, simply reaching the World Cup provided a significant boost to Canada's international reputation in a sport traditionally dominated by teams from Europe and Latin America. Following the demise of the NASL, Wilson retired from competition and turned his talents toward coaching. He was player/coach for the Toronto Inex, formerly the Toronto Blizzard, of the short-lived Canadian Soccer League, from 1985 to 1987. In 1988, he was named head soccer coach at the University of Victoria, leading them to the Canadian Interuniversity championships several times over the next two decades. One of the highlights of his coaching career came in 1993 when he was called on to head the Canadian FISU soccer team. He was also named the Canadian Interuniversity Athletic Union coach-of-the-year in both 1993 and 1997. For his outstanding skills on the field as well as his devotion to the development of the sport in Canada, Wilson was inducted into the Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame in 2000. He is also one of only a few Canadians to be named to the U.S. National soccer Hall of Fame.


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