Like many of us, Jose Manuel Goncalves, in his younger years, decided to look for a better life and crossed the ocean towards the dream. New York embraced him in December of 1955. Immediately, that native love of soccer took aim in him and Sport Club Portuguese of New York was the first club that he represented. Still in New York, Club Espana of New York followed.
However, being Portuguese, Newark made the call and jose Manuel could not resist. In 1961 moved to the iron city, right across the Hudson, and started to play for the San Paulo Soccer Club. Later, Sport Club Portuguese of Newark would be his next team and his contribution as a player finished defending the colors of Fatima Soccer Club.
It was time to move to the other side of the fence and help soccer develop in a country that kept refusing to accept the sport that he loved. In 1969, grouping with Eddie Moraes, Rui Sim-Sim, Carlos Brito, and a few more, they decided to leave Sport Club Portuguese of Newark to found Sport Newark Benfica with the expectation that bringing more competition in the field would help increase soccer’s popularity. Sport Newark Benfica was accepted by the extinct Schaeffer Soccer League and started competing at the highest level of soccer in the state of New Jersey. Soccer in Newark never again was the same and for the better. Jose Manuel was a pivotal part of that initiative and success.
Since the inception of Sport Newark Benfica that Jose Manuel Goncalves has been a member of the cube’s administration in almost all levels of service. His exemplar exercise of common sense, followed by an extraordinary capacity of leadership, were important contributions to the success of “his” new club. It was Jose Manuel enthusiasm and determination the main reason that took Benfica to the highest levels of soccer in New Jersey for decades. It is legendary the competitiveness with Vistula, Roma, GAK, Trenton Italians, Sport Club Portuguese to mention just a few.
But Jose Manel Goncalves and Sport Newark Benfica did not limited themselves to adult soccer. Youth soccer became another enormous step in the history of the club and one of the various finish lines that Jose Manuel always looked to accomplish. At one time he had under his umbrella more than 10 youth teams.
In late 1970s, after one year spell as Direct of Schaeffer Soccer League, under the leadership of Frank Kool, Jose Manuel Goncalves was one of the mentors and founders of the also extinct LISA Soccer Leauge, a very successful league in New Jersey for two decades.
Later in life, still as a Director of Sport Newark Benfica, Jose Manuel gained a new love and embraced track and field. In this sport, which he still practices today, in 1988 and 1991 he started and finished the New York City Marathon.
Today, at the age of 76 years, Jose Manuel Goncalves remains a Director at Sport Newark Benfica, as Vice-President of the General Assembly. He is a beloved and honored member of the Portuguese Community and a soccer die-hard forever.