70-year-old plays last soccer game after six decades on the field

SPRINGFIELD, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- "As long as you can keep doing something that you love doing, age really doesn't matter," said Michael Lyons.

Lyons, 70, first picked up a soccer ball in 1960. His father had just moved the family from Havertown, Pennsylvania, to Paris, France, to pursue a business opportunity. There, the 10-year-old learned about the sport from his European friends and classmates.

"When I came back here to the United States in 1963, soccer wasn't really very popular yet," he said. "So, I had to wait until they started a varsity team in 1967 and 68."

The newly-established Cardinal O'Hara High School started with club sports and worked its way into the varsity scene. Lyons earned his letter jacket as one of the first soccer athletes in school history.

Following graduation, Lyon continued to play in leagues. As the years went on, he dialed back and began participating in pickup games every Sunday. And he always looked forward to the Cardinal O'Hara annual alumni reunion game.

"As I see, the average age is about 24 or 25. So I've got a few years on these guys," he joked. "They joke around with the guys in their 40s and call them grandpa, so I don't know what they call me behind my back. Crazy, maybe!"

But according to participating alumni, nothing is crazy about coming back to see their tight-knit community.

"It just goes to show how much O'Hara is like a family and they always want to come back and play here," said Martin Meenan, who graduated in 2019 as captain of the soccer team.

Staff at Cardinal O'Hara is excited to see classmates reunite, but also hopeful that more young athletes will join the ranks of their various sports programs.

"We actually have this brand new refurbished turf, which is a big draw in my opinion," said Boys Varsity Soccer Head Coach Chris Rodzewich. "So these guys here today really get, you know, a good opportunity to come back together with some old friends to play on this."

As one of those old friends, Michael Lyons says this year's match was bittersweet.

"Starting to feel my age a little bit in my joints, I figured it would be appropriate for me to play my last game at O'Hara," he said. "And so after today, I'm going to be hanging up the cleats."

Lyons credits Cardinal O'Hara as the place where his dreams began. In addition to a life full of soccer, he also enjoys a career in professional acting, which started on stage at the high school in Delaware County. Lyons also published a book about his accomplishments and hopes to continue passing down life lessons to his seven grandchildren.

"If you're passionate about something and you love it, keep doing it until you can't do it anymore," said Michael Lyons.

To learn more about athletics at Cardinal O'Hara High School, visit their website.

RELATED: 40-year-long friendly football tradition lives on

EMBED More News Videos

As childhood friends, they roughed it up on the football field in South Philadelphia. They still meet to play today.

Copyright © 2022 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.