On 21st January 2019, Roma lost one of the greatest players in their history, as Pedro Manfredini died at the age of 83.
Roma’s highest-scoring foreigner of all-time, Manfredini came, saw and conquered in his six-year spell with the club, by the end of which he had cemented his place in the club’s folklore. One of the great goalscorers to have pulled on the red-and-yellow jersey, he made sure to leave his mark on not just Roma, but the whole of Italian football.
Born in Maipu, Argentina in 1935, Manfredini began his playing career with Racing Club de Avellaneda, a club based in the outskirts of Buenos Aires, in 1957. After impressing in South America, where he helped his side to the 1958 Primera Division and consequently earned his first international call-up, he made the move to Europe in 1959.
Roma spent 78 million lire on the then 24-year-old, with the deal completed on 22nd June. Joining a side who had just finished sixth in Serie A under the stewardship of another great striker, Gunnar Nordahl, Manfredini was teaming up with the likes of Arne Selmosson, Dino Da Costa and Alcides Ghiggia. Despite the intense competition for places in the attacking line, it didn’t take long for Manfredini to prove his worth to new coach Alfredo Foni.
Debuting in the season opener, a Coppa Italia game against Cagliari, Manfredini scored inside the opening 20 minutes to set Roma on their way to victory. It was the start of many good things to come.
Despite missing the first three league games of the season, Manfredini continued the good start to his career in Italy when he scored four minutes into his Serie A debut. Roma lost 3-1 to Fiorentina that October afternoon, but Manfredini’s opener had shown that he was a valuable addition to the team and that he could score against the toughest opponents.
The following week, Manfredini was in line for his next appearance, and it was another early test of his credentials, as Roma contested the Derby Della Capitale with Lazio. Once again, Manfredini was quick off the blocks, opening the scoring just two minutes in. He added a second just before half-time, before ex-Lazio man Selmosson sealed a 3-0 victory for the Giallorossi.
Manfredini’s debut season in Rome ended with 16 goals from 24 league games, in addition to the one he had scored in the Coppa. His campaign included braces against Inter, Juventus and Sampdoria, among others. His prolific form ensured he was Roma’s top scorer that season, while he finished an impressive sixth in the Serie A goalscoring charts.
The striker proved the next year that his debut campaign with Roma had been no fluke, as he went on to increase his goalscoring output even further. Beginning the league season with his first Roma hat-trick – in a 3-0 win at Bari – Manfredini was on fire. He made it two hat-tricks out of two when he netted three in a 6-1 triumph over Udinese the week after, before adding further goals against Torino and Napoli in the formative rounds of the season.
On 13th November 1960, he gave another glimpse of his tremendous ability when he added a third hat-trick of the season – this time against city rivals Lazio at Stadio Olimpico. In doing so, Manfredini became just the third player to score a Derby Della Capitale hat-trick for Roma (who moved top of the league as a result).
Another factor in making that season so memorable was the winning of Roma’s only ever European trophy. And unsurprisingly, Manfredini was a key figure in the side’s run to victory in the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup. He scored in every round – including four in a single game as Roma beat Hibernian 6-0 in a semi-final replay – as the side set up a showdown with Birmingham City.
In the first leg of the final, it was none other than Manfredini setting Roma on their way to victory. ‘Piedone’ scored the first two goals as Roma drew 2-2, with the opener bringing up his 50th goal for the club. The Giallorossi went on to win the second leg 2-0 to lift the trophy. With 12 goals, Manfredini ended as the tournament’s top scorer. No other player would ever score more Fairs Cup goals in a single season.
The 1961-62 season would see Manfredini playing under a new coach, Luis Carniglia, but despite the changes in personnel, it was business as usual for the striker. Scoring on the opening day of the Serie A season for the third year running, Manfredini went on to finish as the club’s top scorer again that term. Highlights of his season included a hat-trick against Udinese on Christmas Eve, and an impressive performance against Lazio in the Coppa Italia Round of 16. After the game finished goalless, each side nominated one penalty taker, with Manfredini assuming the responsibility for La Magica. He converted six out of six spot kicks to fire Roma into the next round.
Averaging better than a goal every other game, Manfredini carried his good form into his fourth season in giallorosso, in which he surpassed the 20 goals mark for a second time. With several more hat-tricks along the way, Manfredini helped Roma to a fifth-placed finish in the 1962-63 Serie A, while they reached the semi-finals of the Fairs Cup. The European run included a four-goal haul against Altay, in an astonishing 10-1 second leg win in the Round of 32. Manfredini finished the season as the top scorer in both Serie A and the Fairs Cup.
Sadly, he couldn’t quite replicate the amazing form he had shown the following season, in which he scored just five goals from 15 games. A Roma side in transition went through three different managers as they slipped to 12th in the final standings, with goals proving a real problem. Despite his relative struggles in front of the net, Manfredini’s tally was still only bettered by three Roma players that year.
However, there was a silver lining to the campaign, as Roma won the Coppa Italia for the first time ever. Manfredini scored in the first and second rounds, before proving decisive from the penalty spot again in the semi-final against Fiorentina. Piedone was not involved in the final against Torino, but knew he had still played a major role in the club’s maiden Coppa triumph, also ending up as the competition’s top scorer that season.
On a personal level, the season had also ended on a major positive. When he scored on the final day of the Serie A season – the third goal in a 4-4 draw with Catania – it meant he had reached 100 goals for the club. The goals may not have been coming as frequently as they once had, but Manfredini was still able to tick off an impressive milestone.
The next campaign would be his last in a Roma shirt, and it brought just four goals in total. As he approached the age of 30, it was time for Manfredini to say goodbye.
He left the club having scored 104 goals in 164 games. Only Amedeo Amadei and Rodolfo Volk had previously reached the 100-goal landmark for the club, and to this day, Manfredini remains one of just six Roma players to reach triple figures. Another of his long-standing records is his phenomenal goals-to-game ratio. His average of 0.63 goals per game is bettered only by Volk’s 0.66.
Roma have had some brilliant goalscorers over the years, but Manfredini will always be up there with the very best. He was a focal point for the team season after season, and always rose to the big occasions. He was truly instrumental in many of Roma’s best moments of the 1960s. As the Italian football world mourns his passing, he leaves a lifetime of memories on the pitch behind him.
Riposa in pace, Piedone.