WHO WAS that guy?

Someone from Villanova had just gone out for a pass in a game with Kentucky, caught the ball and scored a touchdown. The radio announcer broadcasting the game had no idea who it was.

But 10 minutes later, after conducting a quick investigation, the announcer revealed that the mystery player was John J. Giordano, who, being a freshman, wasn't listed on the team roster.

Back in Philly, John's family, listening to the game at the iconic family store in the Ninth Street Market, erupted in cheers. Their boy had made it!

What happened was the Villanova coach had sent John onto the field to give the quarterback a play.

"What are you doing in here?" the quarterback demanded. Well, never mind, go long. John did, and the rest is a Villanova and Philadelphia sports legend.

John J. Giordano, an outstanding athlete at Malvern Prep and Villanova University, good enough to be drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1955, who instead stayed in Philadelphia and ran the P&F Giordano Italian market at 9th Street and Washington Avenue, died Friday at St. Joseph's Manor in Huntingdon Valley. He was 84 and lived in the Northeast.

John was born to Paul and Frances Giordano, who founded the market in 1921. He took his athletic talents to Malvern Preparatory School, where he excelled in football, track and baseball.

He received a scholarship to Villanova and was part of its powerhouse team from 1952 to 1955 - "and loved to talk about it," his family said.

John was drafted by the Steelers, but opted to go to Temple University Law School. He spent a year there and decided the law was not for him (two of his sons are lawyers) and returned to run the Italian market.

In recent years, health issues caused him to pass on operation of the market to his sons.

"He was selfless and kind-hearted," said his only daughter, Bernice Duesler. "He was everyone's favorite. He was very giving. If you were hungry, he would feed you. Whatever help you needed, he was there for you."

John was married to Regina Nowacki, with whom he had six children.

In 1986, Regina won a Lotto jackpot worth $2.5 million after having a dream in which she believed her late father gave her a message to play the numbers in old Lotto tickets she had saved. She did, and they hit.

The winnings were disbursed among family members.

Regina died in 2001. Besides his daughter, he is survived by five sons, Paul, Wally, John Jr., Francis and Eugene; three sisters, Johanna, Theresa and Rita; a brother, Paul; 14 grandchildren, and his companion, Joan Maguire.

Services: Funeral Mass 11 a.m. Monday at Our Lady of Calvary Church, 11024 Knights Rd. Burial will be in Our Lady of Grace Cemetery, Langhorne.

Donations may be made to Our Lady of Calvary Church, Holy Ghost Prep or Nazareth Academy Grade School.

morrisj@phillynews.com

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