March 7, 1932 - February 9, 2023
It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Dr. Joseph Csabai. He is survived by his two sons Robert and Christian (Michelle), his five grandchildren, Brendan, Adam, Nathan, Jolie and Ella, and
ex wife Maria. He lived his life being a kind man that gave everything he could and would share his knowledge to help, care, educate and coach as a devoted father, grandfather, Doctor of Chiropractic, soccer (football) coach and friend. Dr. Joe lived a full life of purpose and experiences that may be difficult to match by many. His devotion to education and health and improving it started very early in life for him.
Dr. Joe was born in a small town near the Czech border in Hungary. His family and he thought he would become a Catholic priest, but as he neared graduating high school, his talents were elsewhere and he was offered a professional soccer contract with a team in Budapest. He decided to not accept this offer until he completed university. He enrolled at a well appointed sport university that graduated him with a degree they designated in Europe as a Professor of Physical Education. His degree was UEFA approved to coach soccer, but he also held high designations to coach gymnastics and track and field. It was here that his eye for movement and athletic performance began to be honed. He decided to then take the opportunity to play professionally for the team Ferencváros in Budapest and prepare to play with the National squad for the 1958 World Cup. Unfortunately, the outbreak of a revolution in the country in 1956 caused him to escape the risks and turmoil. He relocated to Spain where he continued his soccer career playing for Real Zaragoza in their professional league. In the off seasons, he would train and coach their national track and field teams also. It was in Spain that he met a chiropractor and had been impressed how this doctor helped him and other soccer players overcome certain injuries that medically were not being helped. It was this chiropractor that told him that chiropractic would be a perfect career for him, especially with his vast knowledge of the anatomy and his ability to understand movement, exercise and improving performance in various sports. He encouraged him at this time that sport chiropractic would be the future. Only after a few seasons of playing in Spain, he suffered a career ending injury to his left ankle that he began this path.
Being good at being fluent in multiple languages, Dr. Joe was confident and decided to travel to New York with very little grasp of the English language and enroll at the Chiropractic Institute of New York. Since most classes were offered in the evenings, he was also able to be coach and player in the east coast professional soccer league and continue to win titles. His designations also provided him a job to be the physical education teacher in a highly elite school and teach the children of well-known famous families, such as President John F. Kennedy’s son John Jr. However, this level of work was not enough for Dr. Joe. He graduated in 1967 with his Doctorate in Chiropractic and immediately moved to Vancouver as he was offered a position to be the team chiropractor and assistant coach with another famous Hungarian teammate, Ferenc Puskas, for the Vancouver Royals, the first professional soccer club in Vancouver. At this time, Dr. Joe began to settle in and start his chiropractic practice in the city and continue coaching and winning titles with Columbus FC and Eintracht FC.
Dr. Joe had energy and fire in him and wanted to share it. He related the story as how early in the 1970s he began to be disappointed with the local chiropractic profession not wanting to engage as he envisioned sport rehabilitation and understanding of other types of injuries and how successful this profession can be with helping various populations of people and not just with spinal conditions. Regardless, he continued to educate everyone what was possible and not what was impossible with care or guidance or coaching or a combination of it. Dr. Joe stuck to this and very quickly developed a practice seeing all sort of athletes.
Dr. Joe never gave up giving all he could to help his patients and those soccer teams and individual players he coached and cared for. He was ultra focused on details and saw the imperfections, whether it was in the clinic in a person’s alignment, movement or ability as soccer player, that his passion with his trained abilities, education and experiences made it easy for him to create the change that was desired. Many reported that they were amazed what changes he could bring about in a person and made it look easy.
Especially in the area of soccer, many have related, his acumen was not to be challenged but rather respected. Within his chiropractic practice, he gave everything he could on each visit to see change for the better and help empower the patient how to help themselves and become healthier and stronger.
Throughout Dr. Joe’s career, his contacts in Europe called him back to speak amongst professionals about chiropractic care of sports injuries. But most importantly, his credentials from Hungary allowed this that he educated medical professionals about chiropractic and how important it was in anyone’s health. In the 1980s he accepted a position in Northern Italy within a facility of practitioners that took care of the Olympic and National athletes. The medical professionals regarded Dr. Joe’s ways with examining and providing care as an essential component for their athletes. This is where he honed in utilizing the collaborative care approach and on field training. He could only commit a few months at a time over a few years, and then returning back to family and practice in Vancouver. When he returned to Italy, he became the personal chiropractor to AC Milan Football Club players. While in Vancouver, his focus was his practice and continued on field development training/coaching of local male and female soccer players that many went on to play for the province, the country and or get soccer scholarships. Dr. Joe was also recognized for his time contributing to Canada’s first men’s qualification to the World Cup in 1986.
Dr. Joe’s passion to elevate the chiropractic profession continued, as in the 1990s he approached the Hungarian government and opened communication between them and World Federation of Chiropractic and its acceptance of the practice of chiropractic care in the country.
As Dr. Joe began to wind down his chiropractic practice in the early 2000s, he continued to serve the public to the age of 80 years old and gave almost 45 years of chiropractic care. He always mentioned how he was truly blessed and proud of his older son Robert’s achievements and also played soccer professionally in Europe and played for Canada and now resides locally as he manages coaching development for the BC Soccer Association. Dr. Joe’s younger son, Christian was also inspired to take the path to become a Doctor of Chiropractic and continue the passion, motivation, and approach to care that his father did. Both sons witnessed and experienced the amazing times their father had and what a ride it was to meet famous athletes and be personally invited to special events (soccer mainly!) and gatherings continuously.
After fully retiring as a chiropractor, he spent the next years continuing to evaluate and recommend soccer players to various coaches and clubs. His quest to maintain his health through exercise continued as he attended the gym but it was rare that he would turn down an invitation to go watch a soccer game or go sit and have a cappuccino and some gelato. Throughout his entire life he was highly social and believed his overall role was to continuously teach others to be better in any aspect of life, even through faith. We believe this was his lifeline. Unfortunately, dementia began to remove his ability to express himself. In the summer of 2019, it was fortunate that he was accompanied by his son Robert and returned to Hungary as it was his wish to accept an invitation to the Puskas Academy that was hosting its yearly tournament and speak with staff and players as he was then the oldest living board member and friend to Puskas. Upon his arrival, he was greeted with great respect by the media and the prime minister announced in an interview that Dr. Joe was to be present once again. The last three years were difficult, as Dr. Joe’s condition deteriorated and were spent in long term care.
Dr. Joe was a special man, an amazing father, chiropractor and coach and lastly, a friend to countless individuals. He will be missed, but by those that knew him, they will always remember him as a true professional and a gentleman.
Soccer Tribute news articles from around the world:
DR. JÓZSEF CSABAI, 90, PASSES AWAY
Soccer Hall of Fame of BC - Joe Csabai
Gyász: Kanadában elhunyt Csabai József
Hungarian Csabai dies at 91
Real Zaragoza regrets the death of its former player Jóscef Csabai
Condolencias por el fallecimiento del exjugador Józcef Csabai
Fallece el exdelantero húngaro del Recre József Csabai
A Sportsman and
Puskással játszott, Van Bastent gyógyította – Csabai József
Soccer Videos from around the world:
80 felett is labdázik
Csabai József —Puskás Ferenc barátja— a Pancho Arénában. 2014 augusztusi felvétel.
National Film Board of Canada - Soccer (1974)
This documentary short shines a light on British Columbia’s soccer culture. With a special focus on the successful Vancouver Italia team, the film celebrates the province’s most popular sport.