Walter Bahr is best known for setting up the goal that gave the U.S. a 1-0 win over heavily-favored England in the 1950 World Cup.
But in Philadelphia and the state of Pennsylvania, the former Temple player and coach is remembered for so much more than as a star for the U.S. national team. Bahr died Monday at the age of 91 of complications from a broken hip.
“Temple has had many iconic figures in the world of sport wear the Cherry and White, but none greater in their field of endeavor than Walter Bahr,” Temple Director of Athletics Dr. Patrick Kraft said in a statement. ”Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this time.”
Bahr starred in his youth for the Lighthouse Soccer Club in the Kensington section of Philadelphia and signed an amateur contract with the professional Philadelphia Nationals when he was 14. He played at Temple for three seasons, earning All-America status in 1944.
He returned to his alma mater to serve as the program’s head coach from 1971 through 1974, guiding the Owls to a 20-12-10 overall record and earning a berth into the NCAA Tournament with an 8-2-5 record his last season. But he is best known as a coach for his successful tenure at Penn State, where he led the Nittany Lions to 12 NCAA Tournament appearances 14 seasons at the helm from 1974-1987.
“Our deepest sympathies go out to the Bahr family and to the thousands of people who have been impacted by Walter during his incredible career,” Penn State head coach Jeff Cook, a former Philadelphia Union Academy and Bethlehem Steel FC coach said in a statement. “He was a true United States soccer legend. Coach Bahr will be deeply missed by many but his legacy will live on as an inspiration for our soccer program at Penn State.”
Bahr also coached the Philadelphia Spartans (1958-63) and Philadelphia Ukrainians (1964-69) and had a successful professional career with the Philadelphia Nationals, helping lead them to four American Soccer League titles in 1950, 1951, 1953 and 1955 before winning an additional ASL title the following year with Uhrik Truckers.
“It’s a sad day in the soccer community,” Dave MacWilliams, a Kensington native and former Temple head coach told EPYSA. “We lost a true pioneer as a player, coach and mentor. His legacy will last forever.”
All three of Bahr’s sons — Chris, Casey and Matt — played professionally in the old North American Soccer League. Casey represented the U.S. at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, while Chris took part in qualifying for the 1976 Summer Games in Montreal.
Chris and Matt also each won two Super Bowl titles as place-kickers in the NFL. One of Bahr’s eight grandchildren, Mike Desiderio, played college soccer with Philadelphia Union defender Jack Elliott at West Virginia University.