Giovanni Savarese in his time with the New York Cosmos. Picture by Dinos Avlonitis
Dec. 30th, 2017
Portland Timbers acquired ex-NY Greek Americans player Giovanni Savarese as head coach on Dec. 18th. 43-year NY Greeks board member and ex-player George Mellis spoke on behalf of the club on Savarese’s MLS contract.
“All of us we wish him the best,” Mellis told a CSL reporter. “We’re very proud of him, three years ago he was in the Greek American Hall of Fame so he’s going to remain with us forever. We know we’re only going to hear good thing about him because he looks at the good and the bad equally.”
NY Greek Americans board member George Mellis. Photo by Dinos Avlonitis
The long time NY Greeks board member, who was alongside Savarese in every bit of his NY Greeks career, noted that the Venezuelan’s positive attitude is what led him to his success.
“The thing we want to say about Gio, Gio is an example of an individual and the reason we feel that he’s having a great—other than the fact that he was a great player—that he’s having a great career as a coach and will continue to have a great career moving forward is because he treats people the way he wants to be treated.
“He always has that smile and he’s looking for the good of every individual on the team and people respect that. He’s always smiling. He doesn’t approach, let’s say, the negative issues on his team with an attitude. He approaches all his players positively, people respect that and that’s why people played for him and will play for him.”
Mellis later added: “He was never mad, always happy, always with a smile on his face and that’s why Gio is where he is now.”
NY Greek Americans team picture in the early 90s (Giovanni Savarese is number 15).
Savarese guided NY Cosmos to two NASL championships and ushered the team to the 2017 final before signing with the Timbers.
The Venezuelan was recruited by NYGA in 1990 when he was playing for Long Island University. He played mainly defense for the CSL champions but also played up top when needed.
Savarese left the club in 1993 to play for Long Island Rough Riders before getting drafted to the MLS as a forward in 1996.
The 46-year-old returned to NY Greeks after his professional career in 2007. He won the CSL in his first year back and the following season.
“Gio came back and he played for the Greeks for no compensation and no one believed it,” Mellis said about the former Cosmos coach return to the club.
“As a matter of fact in the Cosmopolitan League annual meeting when he started working for the Cosmos—he took over the Cosmos youth program before he became the Cosmos head coach—he was asked ‘Why are you playing for the Greeks’ he said: ‘I play for the Greeks because the Greeks did so many things for me before my soccer career now it’s my time to repay them.’”
Mellis went on to sharing that Savarese was the same Savarese he met before and after his prodigious professional career, in which he was named in the U.S Soccer Hall of Fame for, played in the Serie A, broke records for NY/NJ MertoStars and scored 10 goals for Venezuela in 30 games.
“Gio is the same person he was when I first met him back in 1990. Regardless now that he’s a star. Not with me only but with everybody. The fact that right now, let’s say, he’s a famous person, he was a star in his teams then went to the Cosmos, he’s the same person then when I first met him.”
Giovanni Savarese standing next to ex-NY Greeks coach Luccio Russo.
Savarese’s first MLS game as a coach is a much anticipated encounter against the New York Red Bulls at the Red Bull Arena on March 10th, 2018.