February 8, 2019, is the day that FC Dallas and US Soccer would lose the most memorable and influential people to have graced the game of soccer. Fernando Clavijo, former Technical Director for FC Dallas, passed away after facing a 5-year fight with cancer.
Matt Hedges shared what Clavijo meant to him saying, “I think about him giving me the chance. He drafted me and one of the first people that I met from the club. He always believed in me and gave me a chance.”
There was one time that I was talking with him during practice and it was a simple question about how the season was going. He just lit up with a big smile on his face and we were talking for the rest of practice not just on FCD and soccer but on life you can really tell get a feel for the love of the game, the team, and life in general. He was such an easy person to talk to and had such an infectious personality.
It really is a sad day for the club and US Soccer in general but, “He is in a better place watching over us now and God welcomed him to his home but it always tough to accept that news,” Reggie Cannon explained.
When asked about the importance of Clavijo Dan Hunt explained, “I would say in a lot of ways that Fernando was the heart and soul of FC Dallas for the last half-dozen years. He was somebody that everybody in the organization had a great relation with.” Jon Arnold asked if there was a favorite story that stuck with the Hunt’s and Dan Hunt face lit up as he already had one ready to share with us. “I’ll give you my favorite story, I called Fernando the ‘mayor’. He was ‘the mayor’ everywhere we went. At DFW [airport] as we were leaving to Uruguay to go and try to sign [a player], a woman who worked for American Airlines saw us and grabbed us out of the Starbucks line and said ‘Oh no, you’re not paying for your coffee. I’m going to put you in the admirals club.’ When we landed in Uruguay, Montevideo, we got out and we go through Customs and a couple of baggage handlers ran up and started fighting over his bags. There was a luggage with two handles, and they were pulling and Toni (Dan’s wife) and I were looking around going, ‘what are we chopped liver around here?” Clark Hunt said that “When things didn’t go our way on the field, after the game Fernando was always in the locker room with the players telling them to keep their chin up and to keep their confidence up and that things were going to get better. That’s just how he was, whether, with the coaching staff or the players, he was there for them.”
Jacori Hayes shared his thoughts about the news of the passing of Fernando Clavijo: “It’s a sad day for the club, you know. He was an amazing person, always optimistic. He embodied everything that this club stands for. He fought for it to his last days. I always saw him with a smile on his face and he always cherished this day and made the most of this day. He is just a great person and anyone that came across him felt the same way. It’s truly sad.”
I was able to get a glimpse into what Clavijo meant to the young players as Brandon Servania also shared the impact the Clavijo had on his life and his career by stating, “Fernando had a big part in all of our lives especially me, I mean, coming to the academy, being the Technical Director, he is the one that signs players and looks for talented players. He helped me get my first professional contract and so I’ll always be grateful for that. He was so welcoming, and I remember my first few meetings, he was always at every single one, discussing my potential with this club and how far he believes in me, how far I can go. [I’m] forever grateful for him and everything that he has done for me.”
It is not how we imagined one of the best leaving us. I, and I am sure countless of others, are grateful for the chance to have met Fernando Clavijo as he will be sorely missed. Rest in peace, Fernando Clavijo.
Featured Image: FC Dallas