Toronto FC Flashback: A club icon in Danny Dichio

LONDON - APRIL 20: Danny Dichio of Millwall celebrates scoring their first goal during the Nationwide Division One match between Millwall and Watford at The New Den on April 20, 2004 in London. (Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images)
LONDON - APRIL 20: Danny Dichio of Millwall celebrates scoring their first goal during the Nationwide Division One match between Millwall and Watford at The New Den on April 20, 2004 in London. (Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images) /

Danny Dichio arguably did a whole lot more than any other player from Toronto FC‘s inaugural team. The impact he created is still felt to this day, whether it’s noticed or not.

Danny Dichio started off as just another player, who was previously linked with a whole array of different clubs. Like many other squad members of Toronto FC’s 2007 team, he was simply expected to bring his experience to the North American game in order to give management time to find future placements.

Little did Mo Johnston — or any part of Toronto’s front office for that matter — know that Dichio would turn out to be a club legend. Nobody expected anything special from him in truth, but this is what makes the Toronto FC chapter revolving around Dichio that much more special.

Within the history books, there will be a ton of information about what the forward does, and continues to do for the Reds.

It all began May 12, 2007, in the earliest days of BMO Field, when the Chicago Fire came to town. The 24th minute brought one of the most special moment of any club’s history; the inaugural goal in team history, courtesy of a first-time shot from the foot of Dichio.

The goal from the 43-year-old meant a whole lot to TFC, the supporters and to Dichio himself. The forward vividly remembered the goal back in a 2016 interview with the MLS website, when saying the following:

"“It means a hell of a lot me. And not just to me, but to the club as well and to our fans. When you look back, it was such a momentous day for us. It wasn’t a great season for us in all, but I think it was the day that we kind of put our club on the map.“I really go back to that day – it could’ve been anyone, it really could’ve been anyone,” he said. “I was in the right place at the right time when Edson Buddle squared the ball back to me and I bundled it in. It wasn’t a fantastic goal but it was a real meaningful goal that I was so happy I scored. Looking back on it now, it seems years ago because of where we are now in the present day.”"

Dichio notes that it put the Reds “on the map”, which sums the moment up in the most precise way possible. Any inaugural club’s first goal is the most basic way of saying enough with all the hype, in order to get the best possible results on the pitch. Toronto let MLS know they were there with one simple strike from Dichio.

Dichio then went on to create a handful of memorable moments in that opening season. The Englishman notched the club’s first and last goal from the debut campaign, on the way to amassing six goals and an assist in over 1,000 minutes playing time.

To follow up a great first year, Dichio scored a total of five times in the first five fixtures of the 2008 MLS season. In total he made 59 appearances and scored 14 goals over three seasons with TFC, winning the 2009 Canadian Championship — the first in club history — and participating in the Champions League.

Dichio’s contributions as a player made him a fan favorite for supporters, both then and now. To this day, Dichio has a fan chant dedicated to him, and only him. The lyrics go as following, as per Fan Chants:

"Song for Toronto’s bald wonder.. First goal scorer.. and heart and soul. At Pub, day of Chicago away.Ooooooo Danny Dichio,Dichio, Dichio,Danny Dichiooooo!!!"

Dichio still continued his association with TFC after his sad retirement towards the end of the 2009 season. Several sources at the time documented that Dichio was set to join Toronto’s coaching staff from the second he announced he was hanging up his boots. Sportnet’s John Malinaro noted that:

"Toronto FC’s most beloved player is about to call it quits.The Major League Soccer club has called a media conference for Wednesday morning, when veteran striker Danny Dichio will officially announce his retirement, a source told, who turns 35 in October, is expected to join Toronto’s coaching staff immediately."

From that point forward, Dichio slowly faded into the back rooms of TFC’s management. The Notting Hill native became the assistant coach the following season, but the arrival of Preki pushed Dichio farther down the managing ranks.

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From 2010 and beyond, Dichio has managed the Toronto FC Academy, which endlessly continues to pump out young talent from the local area. The hope is that the impact will be reflected onto Canada as a whole one day.

Other amazing accomplishments that Dichio completed involved the spark of the Thornhill Soccer Club, which promotes youth football and adult leagues. He also appeared on TSN and correctly predicted the outcome of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Finally, Dichio claimed permanent residence in Canada in 2009 and still lives in the country today.

Why Dichio was Important to Toronto FC

A player on an expansion squad can leave somewhat of a mark, but nobody can compare to what Dichio has and currently is doing for TFC.

He essentially sparked the past, present and the future for the Reds through good play on the pitch, combined with the development of players for Canada as a whole.

Impressively, this was all done in a span of just three seasons; something many club heroes do not have the privilege of saying.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said that “We aim above the mark to hit the mark”. Dichio did what he was originally asked to do, but added so much more that it will be really hard to try and move on from his contributions.

The Bald Man deserved his own song, and quite possibly one day a statue in front of BMO Field as well.

Next: Wake me up when the season ends

What do you remember from Dichio’s time playing for Toronto FC? Share your thoughts about his overall contributions to the Reds in the comments section below.