Alexandre Ely Sr., who starred for the Philadelphia Ukrainian Nationals from 1959 to 1965, has died at the age of 83.
Ely, who was inducted to the Hall of Fame in 1997, was a member of Ukrainian Nationals through most of their reign as the top team in American soccer. He was a member of the teams that won the U.S. Open Cup in 1960 and 1963 and the American Soccer League championship from 1961-1964. He played three full international matches for the United States, a World Cup qualifier against Mexico in 1960 and two more qualifiers, both against Mexico, in 1965.
Born in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Ely’s first exposure to soccer came while playing on the streets and in the fields of his neighborhood.
He began coaching in 1960, while attending the University of Maryland. In addition to playing professionally and attending classes, Ely served as at the university until he graduated in 1964 with a bachelor’s degree in Foreign Language Education.
He returned to Brazil, where he taught English for eight years. Ely moved back to the U.S. and earned a master’s degree in English Education from Temple University and pursued a career as a teacher and coach.
His stops included the Ukrainian Nationals, Philadelphia Spartans, Monsignor Bonner High School, Spring Garden College, Archbishop Carroll High School, Pele Soccer Camp, United German Hungarian and Swarthmore College. He also founded the America Kolping Soccer Club in 1975 and served as the head coach for twenty years.
Alex’s most decorated accomplishments were earning a bronze medal for the U.S. National team in the 1959 Pan American Games.
Academically, he taught English in Brazil early on authoring two English textbooks. Later teaching roles included Foreign Language (Spanish) at Cardinal Dougherty High School and Archbishop Prendergast/Bonner High School. He also authored novels including A Destiny at Dawn and From Hell to the Hall of Fame.
Family and friends are invited to gather, remember and celebrate Alex’s life on Tuesday October 5th at McCafferty Funeral & Cremation Inc. 6711 Frankford Ave. Phila., PA 19135 (between Unruh & Knorr Sts.) You may visit and comfort Alex’s family during the viewing from 9:30AM-11:00AM. There will be a prayer service at 11:00AM in the funeral home. Burial to follow in Hillside Cemetery. In lieu of flowers please make donations in Alex’s memory to Philadelphia Ukrainian Nationals. Proceeds will be dedicated to providing youth scholarships to play soccer at the club Alex helped bring to National prominence. Checks can be mailed to Ukrainian Nationals SC c/o Michele Burns (1605 Brent Road Oreland, PA 19075)