It truly is a sad day for soccer fans across the United States.
Former FC Dallas Technical Director Fernando Clavijo passed away on Friday at his home in Fort Lauderdale, FL after a five-year battle with multiple myeloma. He was 63.
Clavijo was a massive part of the FC Dallas organization over the last several years, helping build the club into an annual winner that brought home the 2016 US Open Cup and the Supporters’ Shield.
Anyone who met Clavijo was immediately gravitated towards how kind and open he was. He was always very generous with his time and eagerness to help Big D Soccer with interview requests and any kind of detail we were needing from him during his tenure as Technical Director.
The Maldonado, Uruguay native played three seasons in the American Soccer League, two in the North American Soccer League and 10 in Major Indoor League Soccer before transitioning to a spot on the sidelines. He was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2005 after earning 61 caps for the U.S. National Team and played for the U.S. during the 1994 World Cup.
After his playing career, Clavijo transitioned to the sideline and was head coach of the Colorado Rapids from 2005 to 2008. He also served as an assistant with the MetroStars in 1998 and head coach of the New England Revolution from 2000 to 2002. At the international level, Clavijo was an assistant coach with the Nigerian national team in 1998 and head coach of the Haitian national team from 2003 to 2005.
Clavijo stepped down as FC Dallas Technical Director in September, 2018 to focus on his health.
Update: Dan and Clark Hunt talked with the media today during FC Dallas’ friendly with Bayern Munich’s U23 side. Here is what the two had to say about Fernando:
I would say in a lot of ways Fernando was the heart and soul of FC Dallas for the last half-dozen years. Not only did he do a great job in his role as technical director but he was somebody who everybody in the organization had a great relationship with. He was truly a special person, somebody who was always encouraging, somebody who was always sharing himself personally with everyone he had a relationship. I know he was important to Oscar while Oscar was here and to Luchi as well in Luchi’s role in the academy.
I would just add to it, when things didn’t go our way on the field, after the game, Fernando was always in the locker room with the players telling them to keep their chin up, to keep their confidence up, that things were going to be better. That’s just how he was, whether it was the coaching staff or the players, he was there for them and they knew that.
Fernando was - as good a soccer person he was and he was so well respected with a lot of success from his career as a player to after his playing days as a coach and obviously as technical director here and the success we had those years - he was a much better human being. He was one of those guys inside an organization that bonded everybody together. To say that there have been a lot of sad faces today would be doing it a disservice. It’s been very hard but also, at the same time, Fernando’s wishes were to be at home at the end and to be surrounded by family. Clark and I and Toni had the fortune and opportunity to go see him and say goodbye. It was peaceful and it was beautiful and we know he’s in a much better place now.
I’ll give you my favorite story. I called Fernando “the Mayor.” He was the mayor everywhere we went. At DFW as we were leaving to Uruguay to go try and sign Diego Forlan, a woman who worked for American Airlines saw us and grabbed us out of the Starbucks line and said, ‘Oh no. You’re not paying for your coffee. I’m going to put you in the Admiral’s Club.’ And she took us there. When we landed in Uruguay, we were in Montevideo, we got out, we go through customs and a couple baggage handlers ran up and started fighting over his bags. They actually, he had luggage that had two handles on it and they were both pulling. Toni and I were looking around going ‘What are we, chopped liver here?!’