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Players Abroad

The SA-Born Icon Who Still Holds An Incredible Goal Record In Europe

Some of South Africa’s greatest ever exports, such as the UEFA Champions League-winning Benni McCarthy and former Premier League captain Lucas Radebe, are still fondly remembered overseas, but one Cape Town-born footballer is still the holder of an incredible goal record in Europe.

SA-Born Players Who Represented Other Countries, Even At Youth Level

Born in the Mother City in 1933, Edwin Ronald Firmani, known as "Eddie Firmani", showed plenty promise as a youth before joining Charlton Athletic in 1950.

Playing with a number of other South Africans in England, the striker went on to become a goal-machine, representing Charlton for five years before taking his career to Italy, where he joined Sampdoria.

Speaking years ago on adjusting to life in Italy, he admitted it was far from easy.

“At first I found it difficult to adapt myself but once I had adjusted my style to fit in with that of the other Sampdoria forwards, I began to enjoy the games as much as I did those in England,” he said, according to ReadTheLeague.

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Finding the net regularly for the Blucerchiati, Firmani earned himself a move to Italian giants Inter Milan, later joining Genoa, where he was believed to meet up and become close friends with legendary Italian football manager Fabio Capello. While his exact numbers are unknown, the forward was believed to score 52 goals for Sampdoria, 48 goals for the Nerazzurri and 25 times for Genoa.

It was in Italy that Firmani made a name for himself as one of the continent’s most lethal finishers, which also saw him get called up to Gli Azzurri. He played three times for Italy’s national side, scoring on two occasions.

After eight years in Italian football, the South African-born attacker moved back to Charlton in England, before joining Southend United in 1965, and eventually returning to Charlton for one more year.

The forward played one last match in 1975 for the Tampa Bay Rowdies, a team he managed at the time, in the United States of America, but not before leaving an irremovable mark on Italian and English football.

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To this day, Firmani is the only player to have scored 100 league goals in both countries, though 50 of them came in the English first division. In 2005, he was named as Charlton’s greatest ever overseas player, recognition that not even some of Mzansi’s most talented stars have received abroad.

Do you think Firmani might just be South Africa's greatest ever exports? Let us know in the comments section below. 


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