Brooklyn Deacon Is a Pro Soccer Agent

A deacon is known for the role of assisting and providing aide to a priest celebrating a Mass, along with many other responsibilities. In turn, a sports agent assists an athlete or coach in negotiating a contract.

Manuel Quintana’s role of “assisting” as a professional soccer agent has thoroughly helped his transition of “assisting” as a deacon.

Deacon Quintana was one of 17 new deacons ordained to the Diocese of Brooklyn May 25 at Our Lady of Angels Church, Bay Ridge. He was assigned to St. Joseph Co-Cathedral, Prospect Heights.

From a young age, the Manhattan native played almost every sport, but soccer was the first game he learned how to play. His father was born in Argentina, where soccer – or “football” as it’s called there – is the national sport. Deacon Quintana remembers the great soccer memories he has from his youth.

“It was an amazing little team we had,” he said. “They formed us into a team in third grade, and we played together through eighth grade. We never lost, and we never tied.”

Newly-ordained Deacon Manuel Quintana of St. Joseph’s Co-Cathedral, Prospect Heights, represents soccer players all over the globe. (Photo by Jim Mancari)
Newly-ordained Deacon Manuel Quintana of St. Joseph’s Co-Cathedral, Prospect Heights, represents soccer players all over the globe. (Photo by Jim Mancari)

Deacon Quintana played soccer in high school as a right-winger at Middlesex School, a boarding school in Middlesex, Mass. He then was a walk-on to the team at Stanford University, Calif., where he studied psychology in the school’s honors program.

After college, he attended law school at New York University, Manhattan, and graduated in 1975. While he still had a love for soccer, he was interested in civil rights law.

Deacon Quintana’s first job was as a tribal attorney in Tacoma, Wash., for the matrilineal Puyallup Tribe. His job was to start the process of helping the tribe reacquire the land it had lost.

After a year and half out west, he returned to work for a few traditional law firms in New York City. He eventually served as the general counsel for the N.Y.C. Housing Authority.

After building up an impressive career, Deacon Quintana received a nomination by then-President George H.W. Bush to be a federal judge in the Southern District of New York. However, that nomination lapsed once President Bill Clinton was elected.

Becoming an Agent

Though he had never taken any courses in sports law, Deacon Quintana set up his own private practice and officially became a soccer players’ representative in 1996. At that same time, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the international governing body of soccer, decided it wanted to regulate player agency. As a result, Deacon Quintana became the first person in the U.S. to be licensed by FIFA.

Serving as a players’ representative is Deacon Quintana’s full-time job. He can represent a player or a team – but not both – in any particular transaction. He mostly represents international players looking to play soccer in the U.S.

Deacon Quintana has as many as 10 clients at any one time, though some are permanent relationships. His clients hail from anywhere around the globe, so it helps that he can speak English, French and Spanish and can understand Portuguese.

In addition to negotiating contracts and sponsorships, Deacon Quintana acts as an advisor for the young men and women he represents. The athletes have many new experiences upon arriving in America, so he graciously answers all of their questions and helps them adjust to their new lives.

“In many ways, I serve as a mentor to them, and I enjoy it,” he said. “It’s a different sport.”

Major League Soccer (MLS) is not as popular as the four major professional sports leagues – NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL – in this country. However, that has not stopped international soccer players from wanting to make the jump to play in the U.S.

U.S. soccer is known for its beautiful stadiums, and the players can put their children in the best possible schools. But most importantly, the players can lead somewhat normal lives, compared to being superstars in their native countries.

Ordained a Deacon

As his career as a soccer agent progressed, Deacon Quintana knew he always had a call to religious life. While a parishioner at St. Boniface Church, Downtown Brooklyn, he served as president of the Diocesan Pastoral Council. At the time, then-Msgr. Frank Caggiano was the council’s spiritual director, so the two became friendly.

When Deacon Quintana’s term ended seven years ago, he asked Msgr. Caggiano for guidance as to how he could still serve the Church, and the current auxiliary bishop suggested he study to become a deacon.

Deacon Quintana then entered the five-year diaconate program and found that he traveled much more domestically for his job rather than globally. Luckily for him though, the MLS grew during that period, so he could work just as effectively from his Park Slope office as he prepared for his late-May ordination.

He said he considers his role as a players’ agent to be a form of ministry in its own right. Rather than only negotiate a contract, he takes the opportunity to develop a player as a human being and spiritual entity. Similarly, that’s what he also tries to do as a deacon.

“The diaconate is a calling for a particular kind of good person who wants to try and model himself in the image of our Lord Jesus Christ as servant,” Deacon Quintana said. “I think that athletes need to be surrounded by good people who help them.”

He will continue to serve as a players’ agent but said he now has a responsibility to the people of St. Joseph’s.

That community is his new “team,” and he will represent it with as much passion as he has for soccer players across the globe for more than a decade.