Few men in the history of New Jersey soccer, in fact in the history of soccer in America, have done more to promote the world’s greatest game than Antonio “Tony” Doria.
Amazingly Tony didn’t get actively involved in the sport during his boyhood days growing up in Calabria, Italy, but once he arrived in New Jersey in March, 1948 his interest in the game quickly grew.
Actively involved in the Bayonne Italian Club in his new hometown, Tony soon became one of the major figures in the development of new leagues and promoting the game in the U.S.
He was one of the founders of the Bayonne Italians team during the summer of 1955, and within five years had laid the groundwork for the formation of one of the greatest leagues in New Jersey soccer history – The Italian American League.
Realizing that the sport was on the verge of enjoying its best days in the United States, Tony quickly became aware that providing U.S. fans with the opportunity to see the world’s greatest players was the best formula for promoting the game here.
Soon, he had lured the world’s greatest player, Pele, and his world famous Santos team from Brazil, to come to New Jersey for an international match at Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City.
Those who watched the historic match have never forgotten it. For Tony Doria it was the start of a new venture that soon saw the world’s other great teams coming to the Garden State for international matches.
From Italy came Bologna, Bari, and the marquee teams Juventus and Lazio to show their extraordinary talents to an American fan base hungry to watch the game at its highest level.
River Plate of Argentina, Barcelona from Spain and Santos again became fairly regular visitors to America to participate in games Tony would promote not only in New Jersey, but in Toronto, Chicago, Boston, Hartford and around the country.
The U.S. Soccer Federation soon appointed Tony to its International Games Committee, realizing his unique insight to promoting the game was much needed in America.
Although Tony Doria’s active involvement in promoting international matches has ended, his participation in New Jersey’s soccer community is as great as ever.
The one time founder of the Italian American League and the New Jersey State League, Tony has been president of the NJ Soccer Association for the last three decades.
Under his direction the NJSA, the nation’s oldest state soccer organization, has enjoyed its greatest days, increasing in the number of teams and players participating as well as in the creating the Region I Champions League that gets better every season.
Still active in the Bayonne Italian-American Club nearly 40 years after he joined it, Tony Doria’s career as president of the N.J.S.A. is starting its 25th year.
Soccer in New Jersey has never been in better shape – all thanks to Tony Doria, a much-deserved recipient of tonight’s Hall of Fame induction and Lifetime Achievement Award.