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Tony Sanneh on ballot for National Soccer Hall of Fame

01/30/2013, 4:30pm CST
By Barclay Kruse, NSC Chief Communications Officer

Normally we don't take sides in elections, but we'll make an exception on this.

The NSC and Schwan's USA CUP families are pulling hard for the first-time National Soccer Hall of Fame candidate Tony Sanneh. Tony, who grew up in St. Paul, Minn., is on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time. It's huge honor to even get this far, but we think Tony deserves to enter the Hall proper.

Tony has been a valued member of the USA CUP family since, literally, the beginning! Tony played in the tournament in the inaugural year, 1985, where his St. Paul Blackhawks U16 team took 2nd place.

It was just a few years later when Tony jumped to the world soccer stage, playing in MLS, the German Bundesliga, and 43 matches with the U.S. National Team. Even when playing elsewhere, Tony maintained strong connections with local players, coaches (Minnesota Stars FC coach Manny Lagos was a teammate on that Blackhawks team in '85) and USA CUP staff members and volunteers.

So it was natural that when he retired, came home, and devoted his energy to The Sanneh Foundation, Tony would seek out partnerships with USA CUP. In 2012, he brought a team from Haiti to the tournament just months after the devastating earthquake. USA CUP has helped collect used soccer equipment for the Foundation's Kick it Back and Haitian Initiative programs. Last summer Tony managed a Team Camp Experience where teams can sign up for intensive coaching and training during the tournament week. And Tony even talks on camera during our USA CUP promotional video (where he says the line that has become our marketing message: "USA CUP is a life-long experience; even if you're only here for a week, you'll live it for the rest of your life.")

The Hall of Fame voting, which runs through February 22, is done by media, current Hall of Famers, and select coaches. To the best of our knowledge, Schwan's USA CUP and NSC staff and volunteers have no votes.Tony told Michael Rand of the Star Tribune that he thinks he has a 50/50 chance of being elected on the first ballot.

There are 21 others on the ballot and there are plenty of worthy candidates. But you'll excuse us if we stand up and say that Tony's our guy!

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