What it’s like for two Piedmont Triad men who almost made it to the World Cup

The World Series is cool. The Super Bowl is great. But – worldwide – there’s nothing like the World Cup.

More than a billion people watch it, every year, and almost as many kids dream about playing in it, someday. Eddie Radwanski and Michael Coll are just two of them.

Radwanski was the women’s soccer coach at his alma mater, UNC-Greensboro for 10 years before moving to the same job at Clemson University. Michael Coll replaced him as the head coach for the women’s team at UNCG … what they also share is coming very close to playing in a World Cup.

“My first cap came in 1985, it was against Switzerland,” says Radwanski, reminiscing. “We tied, 1-1. It was an unbelievable, incredible, uplifting experience. It was one of those moments of you got to fulfill a dream that you had.”

Coll felt he had a shot at playing in a World Cup when, in 1987, he got his first call up for the Northern Ireland youth national team. Just ask him what it’s like to pull on the jersey of your country.

“Oh, you feel you're unbeatable, you really feel you're unbeatable,” says Coll. “And you would just love to be able to take a picture of it and give it to every one of your friends and say, 'Look at you and look at me.' Because, that's the pride you got and the way it made you feel.”

Coll had a wonderful career, including being an All-American at Penn State. Like most kids, he dreamt of scoring goals at a World Cup.

“I'm like a lot of soccer players, I started off high up the field as a goal-scorer. And then, the slower I got, the further back on the field I went,” he says with typical Irish wit. “My job was to stay back there and defend.”

Radwanski played in World Cup qualifying games in 1985 and 1986, but the team narrowly missed out on making the finals that year, in Mexico.

“Although we didn't do well from a results perspective, the experience those guys got set us up for the '94 World Cup. Which I thought was one of the launching pads for football in our country,” says Radwanski.

And when the US did make the World Cup finals in 1990 and ’94, many of the players were guys Radwanski had played with, so he still felt connected.

“I actually missed one of our Dynamo games because I went to the US - I actually went to the US game in the Silverdome when we tied Switzerland,” he says about his days playing for the Greensboro Dynamo, which won national titles as a professional team in 1993 and ’94. “I was at the Colombia game - that huge game that we won at the Rose Bowl. To me, I felt like I was still a part of it - my friends were playing, my friends were actively playing in the World Cup.”

Both Radwanski and Coll still have their fond memories.

“Well, you know, the older I get the better I was,” quips Coll.

And you can see them in this edition of the Buckley Report.