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Chula Vista's Norbert Stein joins Sockers' legendary players during halftime tribute Phillip Brents | Fri, Jan 07 2011 12:01 AM

Well, it’s official, Chula Vista’s Norbert Stein is a soccer legend in his own time. The irrepressible Stein, two months shy of his 98th birthday, led a precession of eight former San Diego Sockers legendary players through the “O” in the inflatable “SOCKERS” sign during halftime ceremonies of the PASL-Pro Sockers’ U.S. Open Cup Arena Soccer Southwest Regional championship game Dec. 29 at the Del Mar Arena.

Stein, the self-professed No. 1 soccer fan in San Diego County (and also likely the oldest), held the ball up for the crowd of 2,152 to see as he walked through a double wall of cheer-leaders to midfield. The spotlight appropriately lit up Stein’s awestruck expression.

“The best night of my life,” he glowed later.

The halftime ceremonies by the newest edition of the Sockers officially honored the original franchise’s 1985-86 Major Indoor Soccer League championship team — “the one for the thumb” squad that collected its fifth consecutive indoor championship title.

The original Sockers won 10 indoor championships in all while playing in three leagues — the North American Soccer League, MISL and Continental Indoor Soccer League.

The second incarnation of the franchise played in the World Indoor Soccer League and MISL II.

The current edition of the Sockers added an 11th indoor championship banner to the rafters last year in their inaugural season in the PASL-Pro. The Sockers’ North American championship season also featured a first-place finish in the U.S. Arena Soccer Open Cup.

Joining Stein, affectionately known as “The Captain,” at midfield were goalkeeper Zoltan Toth and other Sockers legends Juli Veee, Brian Quinn, Gary Collier, Jacques Ladouceur, Guy Newman, Cha Cha Namdar and Raffaele Ruotolo.

Ladouceur lived in Chula Vista during his playing days with the original Sockers.

Toth accompanied Stein at midfield. “He was the biggest ticket-holder,” Toth said.

Interestingly, both Quinn and Toth had sons playing for the “young” Sockers’ opponent that night: the San Diego Fusion.

The Sockers edged the Fusion, 7-5, to advance to the western semifinals of open cup qualifying and will play the Las Vegas Knights in an upcoming game.

Paul Wright, a member of the original Sockers’ from 1990-92, scored two goals in the Sockers’ victory over the Fusion, the club’s developmental squad.

The Sockers built a 4-1 lead before the Fusion tied the game on three consecutive goals. Wright’s second goal snapped the tie and John Krause and Scott Martin added goals in the fourth quarter for the parent club.

Nick Perera led the Fusion with a goal and assist.

The Sockers return to PASL-Pro regular season action Jan. 8 when they host the Eastern Division-leading Cincinnati Kings, one of just two clubs to hand the Sockers a loss this season. The marquee game, slated for a 6:15 p.m., kick off, pairs the top two teams in the PASL-Pro.

The Kings (7-1) handed the Sockers their first loss of the year on Dec. 18, a 5-4 setback. Jeff Hughes, last season’s league MVP, scored twice to lead Cincinnati, while El Cajon’s Anthony Medina had two goals for the Sockers.

San Diego is 11-0 in PASL-Pro regular season games at the Del Mar Arena dating back to 2009-2010. The Sockers are also 2-0 in PASL playoff games at home, 4-0 in U.S. Open Cup contests and 2-0 in exhibitions for a combined home record of 19-0 all-time.

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