Brian Budd was a jovial, multi-talented athlete and ex-professional soccer
player who wowed the world when he beat America's best in the 1970s-80s
World Superstars competitions.
He was found dead late Wednesday after collapsing at his Toronto home.
No cause of death has been released.
Budd, a forward for seven seasons with the now defunct North American
Soccer League, later became a soccer sportscaster.
Born in Toronto and raised in Delta, B.C., he turned 56 in April.
An international celebrity who in later years became a beer salesman for
restaurants here - first for Molson Breweries, then InBev, owners of the
Labatt Brewing Company - he counted the late SCTV comedian, movie star and
football club part-owner John Candy as a golfing buddy.
It was just one of many sports Budd played with gusto.
Spotted by ABC executives during a major playoff game in Haiti 30 years
ago, he was invited to appear on the World Superstars show, to represent
The televised meets had athletes from different countries competing in
often off-beat events that included rowing, running an obstacle course and
Known as "Budgie," he won the Canadian Superstars competitions four times,
from 1978 to 1980.
Budd considered some of the other soccer players better at the game.
But he was an all-round athlete.
After dropping out of figure-skating training at age 14, he set two
Canadian swim records for the breast stroke as a teen and was offered a
university scholarship as a track runner.
Soccer became his game at age 19.
In 1977, one year after needing 30 stitches on his throat after it was
slashed by a stranger at a Vancouver party, he won a Canadian Inter
University Sport championship medal as a member of the University of
British Columbia Thunderbirds.
At the Superstar tryouts in Toronto the following year, Budd won a trip to
the Bahamas to play tennis, swim, row, sprint and cycle plus other sports.
He was facing the defending champion and other well-known stars of sports
that included football and track.
To everyone's surprise, the obscure Canadian had beaten the world's best
that year, then again in 1979, despite slamming head-first into a wall,
leaving him with a permanent scar on his forehead.
But after besting many athletes for a third time, ABC-TV announced Budd
would not be allowed to compete again. In Canada, critics suggested as a
foreigner, he had done too well against America's best.
Unofficially, the three-times-your-out decision that became a standard in
the games, was dubbed "the Budd rule."
The triple crown, however, had netted him $200,000 in prize money.
During his career with the NASL and the Major Indoor Soccer League, Budd
played soccer for the Vancouver Whitecaps starting in 1974, the Cleveland
Force, the Colorado Caribou, the Toronto Metros-Croatia — later renamed the
Toronto Blizzard — the Vancouver Whitecaps, Canada's national team, Ayr
United reserves in Scotland, and, finally, in 1980, the Houston Hurricane
and the Baltimore Blast.
Two years later, he signed on as a colour commentator for Toronto Blizzard
broadcasts and was the club's public affairs director until 1983, later
providing game analysis for The Score network.
Budd also wrote, authoring The Executive Guide to Fitness, which sold a
respectable 5,000 copies, then as a consultant for a women's fitness
magazine 20 years ago.
Often accompanied by waving arms and his voice rising, his often
outrageous commentaries were wildly different from most laid-back
Insisting years ago that he didn't miss playing soccer, Budd instead
often spoke of “the camaraderie of the players on the planes, buses and in
the dressing room along with the five-a-sides on the pitch to end each
One of his fondest memories was bouncing a ball off Brazil soccer legend
Edison Arantes do Nasciment — known by the nickname, Pelé — who then gave
his game jersey to Budd, whose efforts had helped Canada win a 2-1 upset in
an exhibition game against the New York Cosmos in Vancouver.
Budd is survived by wife Brenda, a son and daughter.