George Tarantini

10 mai , 194925 septembre , 2019

The Gifts and Legacy of Longtime NC State Soccer Coach George Tarantini ~ By Joe Giglio

George Tarantini had a talent for soccer and coaching the sport and motivating his players. He won an ACC title as the coach of N.C. State’s men’s team, once led the Wolfpack to a No. 1 national ranking and the Final Four and mentored one of the greatest players in U.S. soccer history.

But Tarantini’s true gift was with people. He could connect with young or old, in English or Spanish, about soccer or culture or especially about food and a good red wine. Tarantini passed away at his Raleigh home on Wednesday, September 25th. He was 70.

Tarantini retired after a 25-year career as N.C. State’s head coach in 2010. He won more games (243) than anyone in school history and led the Wolfpack to the NCAA tournament nine times, including an appearance in soccer’s version of the Final Four in 1990.

“We, as a team, didn’t always know what he was doing but Coach was always a step ahead of us,” said Robert Gibbs, who played for Tarantini and was President Barack Obama’s press secretary and is now the chief communications officer for McDonald’s. “His ability to take a bunch of kids and turn us into what we were in 1990 was nothing short of amazing.”

Tarantini was a real live version of the American Dream. He was born in Italy in 1949, grew up in Argentina and came to New York with only a passion for soccer. His brother, Alberto, was a star for Argentina’s 1978 World Cup championship team. But George’s coaching career began by accident in New York. His plane to Italy stopped in New York. He never took the connecting flight back home.

He worked construction jobs and odd jobs and taught himself English. He broke into the youth soccer circuit in upstate New York and got his first job at a community college in Poughkeepsie.

John Rennie, a longtime soccer coach at Duke and one of Tarantini’s best friends, was at Columbia in New York City in the late 1970s when he first interacted with Tarantini. “He called me out of the blue,” Rennie said on Wednesday. “I could hardly understand him. But that was George, if you ever talked to him or met him, you remembered him.”

Tarantini had an out-sized personality of a different coaching era. He never lost his accent or his wide-eyed wonder for the possibility of this country or what its opportunities meant. He was from a time when coaches were characters and practice was a test of wills. He was a master psychologist who knew how to get the best out of his players because he cared so deeply about them.

“He loved the game, he loved life and he loved people,” Rennie said. “It’s hard to put into words what he meant. I’m going to miss him.”

Tarantini, who was an assistant coach with the U.S. Soccer youth national team, had impressed Larry Gross at N.C. State. Gross coached both the men’s and women’s teams at N.C. State, and hired Tarantini as an assistant in 1982. Four years later, N.C. State basketball coach and athletic director Jim Valvano made Tarantini the head coach of the men’s soccer team. Valvano and Tarantini were wild dreamers cut from the same coaching cloth. They became fast friends when the N.C. State athletic department was dominated by coaches of Italian descent.

Sam Esposito, the school’s longtime baseball coach, was the capo di tutti. His office is where Valvano, Tarantini and wrestling coach Bob Guzzo would solve their coaching problems.

Valvano used to love to tease Tarantini about his backstory. “You can be a taxi driver or you can coach at N.C. State,” is what Tarantini remembered, in a 2016 N&O interview, Valvano would say to him.

Tarantini had a knack for developing talent. He coached 12 All-Americans at N.C. State, including Tab Ramos, who had one of the most decorated careers of any American soccer player. Ramos, Henry Gutierrez, Roy Lassiter and Pablo Mastroeni all flourished under Tarantini’s tutelage.

“He could see things in players that a normal coach couldn’t,” said David Allred, who was the goalkeeper on N.C. State’s 1990 team and twice worked as an assistant coach for Tarantini.

Tarantini was not without his flaws. He was loud and passionate and took stubborn to a different level. But even that had an endearing quality. “You enjoyed the stubborn part about him,” said Jose Cornejo, Tarantini’s friend and soccer coach at Saint David’s high school. “He had a way to disarm you with his stubbornness.” And a way to get the best out of people, even if they didn’t realize it at the time. “I don’t know where any of us would be where we are now without his influence in those four years of our lives,” Gibbs said.

A Memorial Gathering will be held on Sunday, September 29th from 2:00 - 4:00 pm at Mitchell Funeral Home, with a celebration of his life in late Fall at NC State University.

He is survived by his wife: Page Marsh and daughters Emma and Rachel Lea; by his brother: Alberto Tarantini and wife Adriana; nephew: Robertino Tarantini; and niece: Bernardita Tarantini and husband Diego Yahia, all of Buenos Aires, Argentina.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions are preferred to the George Tarantini Soccer Endowment - C/O Wolfpack Club - PO Box 37100 - Raleigh, NC 27627 or to the Raleigh Fútbol 4 All - C/O St. David's School - 3400 White Oak Road - Raleigh, NC 27609 (please note raleighfútbol4all outreach program).

If you would like to leave a message of condolence to his family, you may do so below within "add a memory".


  • Memorial Gathering dimanche, 29 septembre , 2019
  • Moment of Silence In His Honor vendredi, 4 octobre , 2019


George Tarantini


Daniel Lee

23 novembre , 2019

My name is Daniel Lee 25 or so years ago I put in a hardwood floor for George and during my time at his home we made friends and always enjoyed running into each other when we finished his floor he said hey I have something for you and he gave me one of his best bottles of red wine and said go have a good meal and some wine and stay in touch , I didn't hear of his passing till now and wanted to say he was my friend that I will always remember George

Stephen Hite

1 octobre , 2019

I will never forget bringing my kids team to NCSU soccer camp and him running up to me and saying “ where are all these kids from ?” I began to explain I had put a team together and was trying to help them out but I had no experience playing soccer and had only coached baseball. He says to me “all you need is passion in your heart and I’m pretty sure you have that young man”. He refused to let me pay for 8 kids that day. And continued his relationship with those same kids for years to come. Always remembering their names. And mine.

He impressed me that day (and not by not accepting my money ) with his passion and his empathy for my kids. As with many many people that crossed this man’s path , I remained a friend from the first day I met him.

With all my heart and soul I know one of the really good ones has left us. But he left his mark in this world with his kindness. His heart. And his smile.

Coach you touched my life. And you made this world a better place. Rest In Peace Coach , and I will try my best to live my life the only way I know how,like you , by putting it all out there. Every single day. With mad love.

Steve Hite

Coach Rest In Peace brother.

Dima Sabi (Bseiso)

29 septembre , 2019

While George first came into my life as a coach and mentor to my twin boys 20 years ago, he left as a cherished and dear friend to my family. Beyond seeing what an excellent coach and teacher he was, I was lucky enough to get to see another side of George; that of a kind, supportive and compassionate friend who stood by me and my family during our toughest days. He treated my boys like his own and I will forever be grateful for the role he played in all of our lives. He is already missed terribly and his big heart and larger-than-life personality will always be with us.

Fric Family

29 septembre , 2019

We were privileged that George Tarantini touched our lives, although we met him just couple a months ago. He truly had a gift to see only the best in every person and boost you up on a nice, gentle way. Passion, playfulness and curiosity he shared will never be forgotten.

Ali Calikoglu

29 septembre , 2019

We have sadly learned Coach Tarantini's passing away. This is a big loss for all of us whose children have been not only trained to be a good soccer player, but also taught to be a good human being by him. We met him when he was helping Coach John Kerr in coaching TUSA GOLD youth team. My son Serhat learned a lot from him and loved him as we did. Coach Tarantini helped him to build his confidence and to understand the secret of being a team player. We will always remember him with his passion for training young players, booming voice and humanity.

Cecilia Zuvic

29 septembre , 2019

George was a noble, loving and generous friend to our family. A brother to my dad, they shared crazy and fun adventures together, here in Raleigh and back home on Argentina. He was a great friend to my mom, he was all ears for her. He was like an uncle to me and my siblings. He was un loquito hermoso. I am going to miss his sudden appearances at home with lovely little presents. His amazing dinners, his phone calls and texts. We missed my dad this month as well. It is tough, George was the common denominator between my mom and dad. I am sure all three are making trouble in heaven now, sharing a scotch and laughing loudly.
We will forever miss you and forever love you.
I send all my love to George’s family.

Cecilia Zuvic

Bruce Murray

29 septembre , 2019

I was a young player at a US Soccer ID camp at Princeton one summer and it was broiling hot. I was suffering from the heat and I remember starting to faint. Coach sprinted out and grabbed me from the game and carried me to the shower and threw me in as I was in some sort of heat stroke. Nobody else knew what had happened but he recognized the severity of the situation. I never forget that and throughout my career we always stayed in touch. I will miss him dearly.

Bruce Murray
US Soccer Player

Art Smith

28 septembre , 2019

I was fortunate to begin my college coaching career at Dutchess Community College while George and Bill Holland were coaching our soccer team. George shared his knowledge of what it takes to win with me. I am eternally grateful. I have so many fond memories of time spent with George. He was a fine man who put a smile on the faces of everyone he met.
RIP George
Art (termite)

Hugo and Dolores Cola

28 septembre , 2019

Jorge we will miss you a lot. You were very giving .
That was one of the qualities that we loved about you.
When we got together and had dinner together you always brought something. Always thinking of others.
We were planning a trip to see are friend, but we never made it.
We had so many plans.
We love you and will miss our Sunday dinners.

Luciana Zuvic

28 septembre , 2019

George, we will miss you a lot. You were out of this world, generous, empathetic, loving and so much fun. You were a brother to my dad a friend to my mom and a great addition to our family. Now you can have eternal talks with mom and dad, sharing a whiskey talking about life and movies. We will forever love you. ❤️🙌🏼

George, te vamos a extrañar mucho. Un fuera de serie, generoso, empático, cariñoso, divertidísimo. Te hacías querer en minutos.
Fuiste un hermano para papá, un gran amigo para mamá y un grande para toda la familia.
Ahora tienen para charlas eternas allá arriba, whisky mediante e historias de película. ❤️🙌🏼
Te vamos a querer siempre.

Luciana Zuvic, Agustín Silvestre y Vittorio Silvestre Zuvic