Armando Valdivia, who played two seasons for the defunct Buffalo Blizzard indoor pro soccer team in the late 1990s, died last Friday of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis -- more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. He was 41.
Buffalo soccer legend Rudy Pikuzinski, who played with Valdivia on the Blizzard from 1997-99, remembered the native Mexican as a creative midfielder and respectful teammate. Valdivia, who emigrated to Los Angeles at age 3, was living in Sacramento.
“He was a hell of a guy,” said Pikuzinski, who coaches local youth soccer in Buffalo. “He was smallish in frame, but he had a big heart on and off the field. On the field, he reminded me of a water spider, always buzzing around like crazy.”
The news of Valdivia’s death struck Pikuzinski especially hard. His brother, Richie Pikuzinski, a local soccer coach and avid runner, died after a two-year battle with ALS in July of 2011.