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History Makers: Pedro Manfredini

For the fourth instalment of this series, we're taking a look back at the Roma career of the great Pedro Manfredini - a towering link in the proud chain of strikers that have graced the Giallorossi.

Up until this week - when Edin Dzeko finally overtook him - Manfredini had been the club's top scoring foreign player of all-time, with 104 goals to his credit...


PEDRO MANFREDINI - PIEDONE ('BIGFOOT')


Edin Dzeko has just become the highest-scoring player from outside Italy in Roma’s history. He did so by overtaking a man who had held that title for more than half a century – the great Pedro Manfredini.

Known as Piedone, or 'Bigfoot', Manfredini stood out for his unusually large feet when he first arrived in Rome. But that nickname was in fact an error – it was later discovered that he had a relatively normal shoe size, which a photograph taken from a certain angle had accidentally magnified.

Nonetheless, he would go on to score several important goals with that feted part of his anatomy.

Manfredini arrived after winning the Copa America with Argentina in 1959, a competition in which he had scored his only two international goals.

Roma paid 78 million lire to sign him from Racing Club in his homeland, where he had won the league title in 1958. Even though he was far away from home for the first time in his club career, Manfredini soon settled in and found a new place of belonging in the Italian capital.

Manfredini spent six seasons at Roma, becoming one of just seven players to have scored more than 100 goals for the club.

A determined but skilful striker, Piedone didn’t always see eye-to-eye with his coaches, but scoring at the rate he did, he was always considered a key player for Roma.

Manfredini thrived at taking on opponents, often dribbling past markers with ease to create scoring opportunities for himself. His movement off the ball was similarly impressive – allowing him to get in positions to score on a frequent basis.

Having scored 50 goals in fewer games (67) than anyone else in Roma’s history, Manfredini kept up his impressive goalscoring rate throughout his time at the club.

Of all the players to reach 100 goals for Roma, only Rodolfo Volk did it quicker than Manfredini. Piedone brought up his century in just 147 games.

To this day, the only players to have a better goals-to-games ratio for Roma than Manfredini, considering just those who made at least 50 appearances, are Volk and Enrique Guaita. 

A Coppa Italia and Inter-Cities Fairs Cup winner with Roma, and one of just seven players to have been the top scorer in a Serie A season while at the club, Manfredini was a true fans’ favourite, and remains an icon more than half a century after he played his last game in the Giallorossi colours.

Here are five of Manfredini’s best moments in a Roma shirt.


1. A debut goal sparks excitement

vs. FIORENTINA (a)
11 October 1959
Serie A

First impressions are often the most important, and Manfredini made sure his were positive by making an instant impact at the start of his time in Rome.

Having scored on his debut for the club in a 4-0 win over Cagliari in the Coppa Italia in September 1959, he had to wait until the following month, in the fourth game of the league season, to play in Serie A for the first time.

When that opportunity came, he announced himself in emphatic fashion.

Roma, unbeaten in their first three games of the Serie A season, headed to Florence to face Fiorentina. Manfredini was deployed alongside Alcides Ghiggia and Arne Selmosson in the attacking line, a trio that would create many goals between them in the two years they spent as teammates.

And the first signs of their successful combination came just four minutes into the game at the Stadio Comunale.

With the ball at his feet on the left-hand edge of the box, Manfredini played it to Selmosson, before racing beyond the last defender and receiving it back from his Swedish teammate.

Manfredini stretched out his leg to get to the ball first, prodding it into the net to open his account.

Unfortunately, Manfredini did not end up on the winning side that day, as Fiorentina turned it around to win 3-1. However, he had made a promising start on an individual level – something he would continue in his home league debut the week later, when he scored a brace in his first ever Rome derby, a 3-0 win over Lazio.
 

2. Floated finish shows off range of skills

vs. TORINO (a)
9 October 1960
Serie A

Manfredini proved himself to be capable of scoring all different kinds of goals during his time at Roma. But one of the best was his strike away at Torino, on the third match of the 1960-61 season.

Piedone had already scored hat-tricks in each of his first two games of the season, and he continued his impressive form by drawing Roma level in Turin.

Receiving the ball wide on the right, Manfredini managed to arch the ball into the goal with a looping effort.

The Argentinian barely needed to look up to see where the net was. This was goalscoring at its most instinctive.

Manfredini was renowned for his confidence at finding the back of the net no matter how difficult the effort, and this goal was the physical embodiment of his faith in his own ability.

It helped Roma on their way to a third successive victory, as goals in the second half from Francisco Lojacono and Alberto Orlando completed the turnaround to seal a 3-1 win.


3. A derby hat-trick to savour

vs. LAZIO (a)
13 November 1960
Serie A

Manfredini scored more hat-tricks for Roma than any other player – even Francesco Totti. Piedone netted three times in a single game on nine occasions, and one of the most memorable came in November 1960, during the formative months of his most prolific season.

Having scored eight goals in his first six league games, his tally increased even further on the most important stage in game No. 7 – the derby against Lazio.

Scoring in the 22nd, 25th and 37th minutes, Manfredini inspired Roma to a huge 4-0 win over their rivals. His triplet of strikes made him just the third player to ever score a hat-trick in the Derby Della Capitale for Roma - and only Vincenzo Montella has also done it since.

The first goal that November afternoon saw Manfredini execute a composed finish from the centre of the box, with ex-Lazio man Selmosson setting him up.

For the second goal, the Argentine found a pocket of space behind the defence, and after receiving a through ball, coolly rounded the keeper to slot home into an empty net.

And the treble was complete when Selmosson drew the defenders away, leaving Manfredini with space in the middle of the six-yard box to pass the ball into the net. Once again, the South American’s work to get into the right positions had paid off.

Manfredini scored a hat-trick in his next game, too, against Padova. Incredibly, it was already the second time that season he had scored hat-tricks in back-to-back games.

Manfredini, whose ability to score trebles regularly earned him the nickname ‘Man-tre-dini’, remains the only player to ever record successive hat-tricks for Roma.

4. A European 'poker'

vs. HIBERNIAN (h)
27 May 1961
Inter-Cities Fairs Cup semi-final

Manfredini played a pivotal role on the journey to the club’s first ever European final in 1960-61.

The Argentine striker scored four goals in the first two rounds of the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, including a brace in the quarter-final replay against FC Koln.

Scottish side Hibernian awaited in the semi-finals, but like in the previous round, the two teams could not be separated after two legs. Hence, a replay was set up to determine who would contest the final.

Having scored a brace in the second leg, it didn’t take long for Manfredini to make his mark again. This time it was all-or-nothing, but Piedone put Roma in the driving seat by giving them the lead inside the first minute.

Set up by Selmosson, by now his most trusted provider, Manfredini dug the ball out of his feet before shooting on the turn. He barely needed to look where the goal was – his instinct meant the ball could creep in at the near post.

Before even 10 minutes had passed, Manfredini had his second of the match. He had slightly more time to think about this strike, receiving it in the centre of the box, facing goal, before side-footing it past the opposing keeper.

Piedone completed his hat-trick in the 35th minute, once again using his confidence to get in behind the opposition defence before dinking the ball over the onrushing keeper.

By this point, Roma finally had one foot in the final. But Manfredini wasn’t finished there.

In the second half, Manfredini completed his ‘poker’ – the term used in Italy to describe a four-goal haul. Selmosson was the provider once more, squaring the ball to his teammate in the box.

Manfredini opened his body up and completed his quartet of strikes with another side-footed finish.

The game eventually finished 6-0, allowing Roma to progress to the final – where they would beat Birmingham City over two legs, Manfredini scoring a crucial brace in the first, to lift what remains their only European trophy.

 

5. The difference maker against Inter

vs. INTER MILAN (h)
5 May 1963
Serie A

Past the halfway point in his Roma career, 1962-63 was the last season in which Manfredini reached double figures.

He did so in some style, scoring 19 goals in Serie A to share the Capocannoniere award. That meant he fell just one short of matching his best ever tally in the top flight, which he had achieved in his second season with Roma.

Manfredini – who that year also topped the charts in the Fairs Cup for the second time in his career, thanks in part to another four-goal haul in the club’s biggest ever win, a 10-1 thrashing of Altay – netted one of his most famous goals in the penultimate home game of the Serie A season, as Roma beat Inter Milan 3-0.

Receiving the ball on the left-hand corner of the penalty area but facing away from the target, he teed himself up before striking the ball on the volley.

Turning towards the goal as he connected with the ball, Manfredini saw his shot land in the bottom corner to open the scoring.

Once again, finding a scoring opportunity was the first thing on Manfredini’s mind, no matter how unlikely the position.

But Pedro Waldemar Manfredini was a man who made the impossible possible.


What happened next for Manfredini?

Disrupted by injury, Manfredini’s last two seasons in Rome were less prolific. The club’s form in the league in 1963-64 was inconsistent, although they crowned the season by winning their first-ever Coppa Italia.

Manfredini scored Roma’s first five goals on their journey to the final, including a hat-trick against Napoli in the second round.

He ended his penultimate season in the capital with a respectable nine goals, which only Alberto Orlando and Jurgen Schutz managed to surpass for Roma.

However, Manfredini’s final season, 1964-65, brought just four goals. It didn’t take away from his overall achievements with the club, though; he finished with 104 goals in 164 appearances.

In 1965, Manfredini left Roma, but stayed in Italy – going on to spend a year with Brescia, where he scored once in eight games.

After his spell at Brescia, Manfredini had two years at Venezia (the first ending in relegation from Serie A) before he retired in 1968 after a year in the second tier.

Manfredini returned to Argentina after retiring, but when he came back to Italy in 1975 for an exhibition match between former players, he received such a positive reception from Roma fans that he realised the capital was his true home.

Hence, his post-playing career saw him return to Rome, where he would live for the rest of his life. His return to Italy was not in a sporting capacity at first, as he opened a bar in the capital.

Manfredini would pursue other ventures more closely linked to what he originally became famous for, including running a football school, until he ultimately settled down in Ostia.

Manfredini was 83 years old when he died in Rome in January 2019. Despite the likes of his compatriots Abel Balbo and Gabriel Batistuta, and Germany’s Rudi Voller, impressing for the club in the years after his retirement, Manfredini never lived to see his record as Roma’s all-time leading foreign scorer surpassed.

Even though he has now finally been overtaken, his legacy will remain for generations to come.

Read more in this series:

Hidetoshi Nakata
Cafu
Alberto Aquilani
 

Follow Samuel Bannister on Twitter: @SamBanno1

 
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