VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – He has spent a lifetime surrounded by the beautiful game, from the green soccer fields of his youth in East Vancouver to heading up the Vancouver Whitecaps FC for their Major League Soccer debut.

Team president Bob Lenarduzzi is out with a new autobiography.

“White is the colour, soccer is the game,” as the old fight song goes and for Lenarduzzi that has certainly held true for as long as he can remember.

As one of the original Whitecaps, the local boy went all the way with the team in 1979, but five years later the Caps and the North American Soccer League were history, albeit temporarily.

Lenarduzzi says writing the book made him realize the one thing that has sustained him all these years.  “As much as I’ve enjoyed my career, it’s always related back to my family and how supportive they’ve been, from the time I was a young boy through to my current family now.”

Vancouver may be a hockey town, but for a brief time in the late 1970s, the city was crazy for soccer.  Lenarduzzi spends a good chunk of the book looking back at those heady days.

He says getting there was years in the making, from playing in front of friends and family to becoming the hottest ticket in town.  “We started to build some momentum, both as a team and in terms of people coming out to watch our games and it just hit a crescendo.”

The ‘Caps won their title on the road and Lenarduzzi says he was shocked by the reception once they got back home.

“I remember sitting beside a teammate of mine, Buzz Parsons, saying, ‘Well, it would be a little embarrassing if we had this parade and nobody was there,’ and little did we know that the city was totally energized.  The estimates of the people downtown that day were 100,000 plus and it was a very wonderful experience, especially for someone like me who grew up in the city and understood it took a lot get people that excited.”

There’s plenty of local soccer history in the book, but Lenarduzzi gets into the future of the game as well.

“It’s a sport that doesn’t have the history of the other North American sports but I think there’s a place for professional soccer in the sports hierarchy in North America and MLS, I believe, has done a real good job of building a solid foundation.”

Bob Lenarduzzi: A Canadian Soccer Story was co-written with longtime Vancouver sports writer Jim Taylor.