Getting His Due
Sunday, January 25, 2009Courtesy: Harvard Athletic Communications
He was handpicked by Pele to be the goalie for the 1976 New York Cosmos of the North American Soccer League. And that doesn’t even make the top-five list of most interesting facts about former Crimson goalie Shep Messing (’72).
Messing, who grew up in the Bronx, transferred to Harvard as a junior, after spending two years at NYU. A walk-on to the NYU team, Messing was named second team All-America his sophomore season. In 1970, Messing arrived in Cambridge.
“I didn’t tell anyone at Harvard that I played soccer,” recalled Messing. “I just went down to the practice field when the team was running drills and asked if I could practice with the team.”
After a few days of working out with the team, Messing was asked to join the Crimson. Only then did he admit to being an All-American selection at NYU.
“We had a very good team that year,” said Messing. “It helps when you have a team that gets together and wins. We did both. We went to the NCAA tournament twice. Many of my fondest memories are of playing soccer at Harvard.”
Messing was named second team All-Ivy in 1971 and was an All-America selection that year as well. But due to an almost complete lack of records pertaining to soccer in the early 1970s, Messing had never been formally recognized by Harvard for his on-field accomplishments. In fact, Messing is one of eight Crimson athletes who, until this year, were inadvertently left off the rolls of All-America and All-Ivy selections. All that changed when former Crimson coach Seamus Malin, a 35-year employee of Harvard and legendary soccer announcer, brought the omissions to the attention of the athletic department. Lengthy research followed and uncovered a number of names who now have their rightful place in the school's soccer annals.
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