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Player and coach, a deadly combination if you're the head coach of the St.Catharines Roma Wolves.

If history is any indication in pro sports, the combination of a player/coach is more rare than one might imagine, but to the Roma Wolves this combination has played a large part in the club's success and in the case of head coach Lucio Ianiero, success seems to follow him wherever he goes.

At 37, Ianiero may be getting old for this level, but you wouldn't know it when he steps on to the field, according to Armand Di Fruscio, a vice president and GM of Roma Wolves, a team with a storied past going back several decades.

Entering his sixth year as head coach and his 10th year as a player for the Wolves, Ianiero led his club to a league championship in 2001 and has engineered his team's climb up the conference standings in the two years since.

A midfielder by trade, Ianiero is the engine of this team and he wouldn't have it any other way.

"I like to build up plays and set-up goals, but I certainly must have a talented supporting cast to do so."

Statistically, he is right up there with the elite players at his position and the confidence his club has in him is without parallel. "It is his experience and skill that makes him such a valuable player for this ball club and he still has what it takes to play in this league and coach at the same time," said Di Fruscio.

A pro even before he entered the CPSL, Ianiero has traveled the globe with the likes of Canada's Junior National Team, of which he and his former playmates are in the record book as the first Canadian Junior National team ever to clinch an Olympic berth. That was back in 1985. He also played in the now defunct Canadian Soccer League for the Toronto Blizzards and Hamilton Steelers in which he played in the league finals four straight years from 1986-90, all with the Steelers.

No stranger to pro soccer both sides of the border, Ianiero also played for the Toronto Rockets of the American Professional Soccer League and Toronto Shooting Stars of the indoor National Professional Soccer League.

Off the field Ianiero is an adamant ambassador of the sport, having been involved in running soccer camps in the Niagara region since he was 18 years old. "I believe strongly in the sport and have always wanted to help develop home-grown talent, a philosophy that I borrowed from the great Dino Perri," says Ianiero. Only recently has he begun to take time off from his community involvement so that he can spend more time with his family, although he still finds time for soccer when he's at his full time job as a teacher for St.Catharines Collegiate, teaching physical education. Ianiero is the school's head coach for the girl's soccer team and recently led that squad to an undefeated regular season record before losing in the finals, 2-1 to St.Francis High School.

Having been in soccer for over 30 years Ianiero hopes to continue to play professionally until his body decides otherwise. "As long as I can play the entire season and stay injury free then I will keep playing the game."

If and when the time comes to eventually hang up the shoes he certainly would love to continue to coach and promote the game. "If the Wolves ask me to come back for a coaching position when it's all over, I will."

Paul Munster
George Azcurra
Lucio Ianiero
Phil Ionadi
Abraham Osman
Mladen Dikic
Eddy Berdusco

In addition to Toronto Croatia, which other club has won the CPSL championship twice?
St. Catharines Roma Wolves
Ottawa Wizards
Toronto Olympians
North York Astros

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