Billikens soccer coach passes away at 84

Harry Keough retired as SLU’s soccer coach in 1982. He won five NCAA men’s soccer championships in his career. Mario Coronado / The University News

Harry Keough retired as SLU’s soccer coach in 1982. He won five NCAA men’s soccer championships in his career. Mario Coronado / The University News

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Former Saint Louis University soccer coach, Harry Keough passed away Tuesday Feb. 7 at the age of 84 due to natural causes after suffering from Alzheimer’s.  He led the Billikens to five NCAA championships, half of the titles in the school’s history.

Harry Keough retired as SLU’s soccer coach in 1982. He won five NCAA men’s soccer championships in his career. Mario Coronado / The University News

“Harry was a true pioneer, representing the finest of a generation of men and women who built the foundations for soccer in the United States on which we stand today,” U.S. Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati said.

Keough was born in St. Louis and attended Cleveland High School. He played soccer for the St. Louis Schumachers after joining the Navy from 1945 to 1948, which ignited his international career with the U.S. National Soccer Team.

After his stint with the military during World War II, Keough returned to St. Louis and was picked to play for the U.S. team at the 1949 North American Football Confederation Championship, which served as a qualifier for the for World Cup.

During the 1950 World Cup, Keough started three games and was the captain of the U.S. National team against Spain in the opening round.  He was also a starter against England, where the U.S. team upset the British 1-0.

Many regarded England to be the best in the world at that point and named this one of the greatest upsets in soccer history.

He continued to play for the U.S. National and Olympic team until 1957, serving as captain of the 1952 and 1956 Olympic squads.  He had one goal as a defender in his 19 appearances during his eight-year run on the team.  His lone goal came against Canada in a World Cup qualifier against Canada.

In 1967, Keough was hired at SLU and immediately made an impact.  The Billikens won their sixth NCAA title in the first year under Keough’s reign. He later won four more NCAA titles (1969, 1970, 1972, and 1973) and was unbeaten at one point for 45 consecutive matches.

He resigned during the 1982 season with an overall record of 213 wins, 50 losses and 23 ties.

“This is a sad day for Saint Louis University and the St. Louis soccer community,” said Father Biondi. “Harry Keough was a true Billiken legend who set a standard for excellence – on and off the field – that continues today at SLU.”

Keough holds the 1967 NCAA Men’s Soccer championship, his first as a coach and the sixth in SLU history. The University News Archives

“The Saint Louis University community lost a true icon in Harry Keough,” SLU director of athletics Chris May added. “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.”

Keough continued to work as a referee and as an assistant coach for the Washington University Women’s team well into his 70s.

He won numerous Senior Olympics gold medals in swimming and track and field as well.

His wife, Alma, his daughters Colleen and Peggy, and his son Ty, who played eight games for the U.S. national team in 1979 and 1980, survive Keough.

The service for Harry Keough will be at 10 a.m Saturday at St. Francis Xavier College Church.