Clive Toye

The North American Soccer League executive who turned around that league’s fortunes, and maybe those of American soccer generally, when he signed Pele to play for the New York Cosmos in 1975.

Toye, who was with the NASL in one capacity or another from its beginning to end, was president and general manager of the Cosmos at the time that he signed Pele, then recently retired from Santos. Toye had once been a London sportswriter and had come to the United States to be general manager of the Baltimore Bays of the NPSL in 1967. He served as an aide to NASL commissioner Phil Woosnam before joining the Cosmos in 1971 and overseeing the building of that franchise.

Toye’s effort to sign Pele was a long one, beginning with a very tentative contact in the spring of 1971, while Pele was still playing in Brazil. It picked up steam in the summer of 1974, and while Pele rebuffed it at first, by the spring of 1975, he yielded and signed to play three seasons with the Cosmos.

Toye left the Cosmos during the 1977 season, after seeing the team on toward still greater things with the signing of Franz Beckenbauer and Giorgio Chinaglia. In the remaining years of the NASL, he was president of the Chicago Sting and then the Toronto Blizzard. In the NASL’s final months, in late 1984 and early 1985, he was the league’s president, attempting unsuccessfully to get a 1985 season going.

In 1988, Toye was one of the founders of the third American Soccer League, which evolved into the A-League.

Inducted in 2003.