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THE KID'S A KEEPER
Clive Gammon
April 09, 1990
Get ready, Europe. Here comes Tony Meola, the gifted goalie who promises to be the U.S.'s first world-class soccer star
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April 09, 1990

The Kid's A Keeper

Get ready, Europe. Here comes Tony Meola, the gifted goalie who promises to be the U.S.'s first world-class soccer star

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Long before that, Tony had chosen his position. Or had it chosen him? His mother says, "He was a fat kid. Ah, not fat but, well, a little butterball. So the coach made him a goalie."

"Look at my hands," says Meola. "They're fat hands. On the national team, they call them the Meat Hooks. And every finger has been broken once at least, though never my thumbs."

Starting out big and slow forced Meola to practice his footwork day in, day out during high school. And that's not all. After regular practice, he and Rosamilla—now a goalie for Columbia—would stay on for an extra 45 minutes. "Sal called it D.I.M. time—it stands for 'dirt in mouth,' " says Meola. "We didn't have a grass field for two years."

From now on, though, Meola is going to be playing on the best-quality grass in the world. And on June 10, when he runs out onto the manicured turf of the Stadio Comunale in Florence for the U.S. team's first World Cup game, against Czechoslovakia, many of his friends from Kearny will be there to see him. His girlfriend, Colleen Silvers, is going. So are Vinnie and Maria and Tony's 24-year-old sister, Angela.

"I was in Port of Spain, and I was in tears," says Vinnie. "Now this is something for the rest of my life, something beautiful. And, of course, we'll be going a week early. I want to visit everybody in Avellino."

It's hard to think of a sweeter homecoming than that.

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