Born in Marineo, Sicily in 1954, it didn’t take Francesco Maneri long to develop a lifetime love for soccer that continues today.
His earliest memories are of his mother making him a white shirt with red and black stripes and the No. 10 of the player he idolized – Gianni Rivera of AC Milan.
Francesco joined the Marineo Junior Team at age eight and played four years until his family moved to America and Settled in Garfield, N.J.
Francesco soon became a standout soccer player at Garfield High where he was a four-year starter and three-year captain, wearing No. 10 and playing center midfield.
By 1969 he had led Garfield High to its league title, earning a spot on the All-League and All-State team. In 2004 he would be inducted into the Garfield High Hall of Fame.
As a teenager in Garfield, he played with Passaic Santa Croce’s junior team in the Schaefer Soccer League, learning the game even more from of the the great players in N.J. Socer history – Sal Russo, also an NJSA Hall of Famer.
Francesco still has great soccer memories of playing indoor games in the Paterson Armory against the top teams in the metropolitan area. He joined Santa Croce’s senior team after three years at the junior level, and eventually joined the Garfiled Italians when the Santa Croce team disbanded.
After a few seasons at the semi-pro level he joined Garfield Juventus which played against such well-known teams as Bayonne Italians, Bangarese SC, Pichinia SC and Uruguay Cerro in the Italian American League.
In 1990 Francesco and longtime friend Luigi Trentacoste formed the Palermo SC Over-30 team which dominated the league for several years. For the last 20 years he has served as player/coach for the Real Wyckoff SC of the Champions League and has also become active as a referee at the high school, college and amateur level.
Francesco and wife Joann had three children – Melissa, Jessica and Frank – and live in Fairlawn. For 28 years he has been employed by Monumental Life Insurance, and has been a manager for 25 years, helping recruit and coach new agents and watching them develop a successful career in their profession.