Football community mourns the passing of 'Little Professor'

THE Coffs Coast has lost its link with footballing royalty.

The soccer world has been saddened by the passing late on Sunday night of Leo Baumgartner, a man known by many in the game as 'The Little Professor'.

Having reached 81 years of age, Baumgartner spent his final years in Coffs Harbour, continuing to make a valuable contribution to the game through coaching and assisting local grassroots clubs in the region.

He coached the Coffs Coast Tigers to a premiership and grand final appearance and also had a stint guiding the Sawtell Scorpions.

Leo Baumgartner.
Leo Baumgartner.

Baumgartner's standing in the game went far beyond the local competition, as evidenced by yesterday's tribute paid to both him and his legacy for football in Australia by FFA Chief Executive Officer David Gallop.

"Leo Baumgartner was a superb ball player who was a star in his native Austria before moving to Australia," Mr Gallop said.

"He is credited with bringing the modern passing game to Australia and was hugely influential as a coach and mentor.

"Our deepest condolences go out to the Baumgartner family at this time. Leo will be sadly missed by all."

When Craig Foster was the guest speaker at North Coast Football's presentation night at the conclusion of the 2008 season, even one of Australia's most outspoken media personalities in the game admitted he had to pay due deference to Baumgartner who was present.

Leo is survived by wife, Helen, daughter Sonja and son Ric.

His funeral will be held at the Hogbin Dr Crematorium on Friday at 11.30am.

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