Harry Keough, the legendary soccer icon who coached Saint Louis University to five NCAA championships, has passed away, his family announced today. He was 84.
Keough, a native St. Louisan, was a member of the U.S. National Team in its thrilling 1-0 upset of England in the 1950 World Cup. He took the reins of the SLU men's soccer program in 1967 and led the Billikens to five NCAA titles and a program-record 213 wins prior to his retirement in 1982.
"This is a sad day for Saint Louis University and the St. Louis soccer community," SLU president Lawrence Biondi said. "Harry Keough was a true Billiken legend who set a standard for excellence - on and off the field - that continues today at SLU. On behalf of the University and Billiken fans everywhere, I extend our thoughts and prayers to Coach Keough's family and friends during this difficult time as we all mourn his passing."
"The Saint Louis University community lost a true icon in Harry Keough," SLU director of athletics Chris May said. "Harry was a wonderful man and champion who acted with such unmatched dignity for all of us to look up to. His teams were led by a man of true conviction and class. He earned many accomplishments in competition, but none was more impressive than his legendary humility. The SLU athletic program sends its thoughts and prayers to Mrs. Keough and Harry's family and friends during this time of loss."
Keough was born in St. Louis and attended Cleveland High School. Ironically, Cleveland did not sponsor a soccer team, so Keough starred in a variety of other sports while playing junior and intermediate soccer with the Schumacher Undertakers from 1943-45.
After a stint in the Navy from 1945 to 1948, Keough returned to St. Louis and joined the St. Louis Raiders, which was the forerunner of the prestigious Kutis Club. That was a major stepping-stone to an illustrious international career with the U.S. National Team.
Keough played right fullback for the USMNT in the 1950 World Cup, which saw the Americans pull off a stunning 1-0 upset against England in Brazil. Keough played for every U.S. National and Olympic team from September 1949 to July 1957. He captained the United States Olympic teams in 1952 (Helsinki, Finland) and 1956 (Melbourne, Australia).
Meanwhile, Keough continued his association with soccer in St. Louis as a player-coach with Kutis. He began coaching collegiately in 1966, leading Florissant Valley Community College in St. Louis to a 12-2-2 record and a runner-up finish in the National Junior College Athletic Association national tournament.
Keough was hired at SLU the next season in 1967, and continued the legacy set forth by Bob Guelker before him. The Billikens won their sixth NCAA title in Keough's first year. He directed the Billikens in what was widely considered their greatest era, when SLU went unbeaten in 45 consecutive matches and won four NCAA titles (1969, 1970, 1972 and 1973) in five years.
Keough's players were named to All-America teams 28 times, and more than 40 of his former players went on to play professional soccer. He is a member of the National Soccer Hall of Fame, Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, St. Louis Soccer Hall of Fame and the Billiken Hall of Fame, among others.
Keough was a long-time employee of the U.S. Postal Service in St. Louis. He is survived by his wife, Alma, and three children - Ty, a four-time All-American at SLU, Colleen and Margaret.