Edwin Ronald "Eddie" Firmani (Italian pronunciation: [ˈɛddi firˈmaːni]; born 7 August 1933) is a retired footballer and manager. A former forward, he was born in South Africa, but represented Italy internationally.
|Full name||Edwin Ronald Firmani|
|Date of birth||7 August 1933|
|Place of birth||Cape Town, South Africa|
|1949–1950||Clyde F.C. (Cape Town)|
|1975||Tampa Bay Rowdies||1||(0)|
|1975–1977||Tampa Bay Rowdies|
|1977–1979||New York Cosmos|
|1984||New York Cosmos|
|1996||New York/New Jersey MetroStars|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only|
Firmani played as a centre or inside forward. He joined English team Charlton Athletic in 1950 and became a regular goal scorer, including scoring five goals in a 6–1 win against Aston Villa in 1955. At the time the Charlton team included several South Africans, John Hewie, Stuart Leary and Sid O'Linn. During his first spell with Charlton he married Pat Robinson, daughter of the club's assistant manager. Later in 1955 he moved to Italian team Sampdoria for £35,000, which at the time was a record transfer fee involving a British club, beginning an eight-year spell in Italy when he gained three caps for the Italian national team, qualifying for the national team because his grandfather was Italian. He also played for Internazionale and Genoa.
While playing in Italy, he was given a nickname which was later modified twice. He was originally called Il Tacchino (The Turkey) because he flapped his elbows when he ran. It was first changed to Il Tacchino Freddo (The Cold Turkey) for the phlegmatic way he celebrated his goals, before he was finally known as Il Tacchino d'Oro (The Golden Turkey) when he began scoring with greater frequency.
In 1960 Firmani wrote a volume of autobiography "Football with the Millionaires", which provides an interesting contrast between the lifestyle of Italian footballers and their English counterparts in the era of the maximum wage.
He returned to England in 1963, linking up again with Charlton, now playing in the second division. After two years he moved to Southend United in the third division but returned to The Valley for a third spell with Charlton two seasons later. In total, he made 177 appearances for the Addicks, scoring 89 goals. In recognition of his talents, he was named as Charlton's greatest overseas player in 2005. Firmani is the only man ever to have scored 100 League goals in both England and Italy, albeit only 50 in the English first division. In 1975, he played one game for the Tampa Bay Rowdies of the North American Soccer League.
In 1967 Firmani was appointed Charlton manager and retired as a player. Firmani thus became the first Italian international to manage an English club. In his second season in charge, Charlton finished third in the Second Division just missing out on promotion. He was fired in March 1970 with the Addicks battling against relegation to the Third Division.
Firmani moved to North America and managed several North American Soccer League sides: Tampa Bay Rowdies, New York Cosmos and Philadelphia Fury which turned into Montreal Manic. He managed the Rowdies to the NASL championship in 1975 in his first year in charge and was named the NASL coach of the year in 1976, when he guided Tampa Bay to the best regular season record. He also led the Rowdies to the finals of the NASL's indoor tournament in both 1975 and 1976, winning the latter. He was the first of only three coaches (Ron Newman and Al Miller) to win both an outdoor and indoor title in the NASL.
In 1977 Firmani was signed by the Cosmos mid-season, after having resigned from the Rowdies for personal reasons. At the time the Cosmos had a team featuring Pelé, Beckenbauer, Giorgio Chinaglia et al. Firmani added Carlos Alberto, Brazil's World Cup-winning captain of 1970, and the Cosmos won back-to-back titles in 1977 and 1978. For the second time in three years his squad had the best record at the end of the 1978 season. After being fired by the Cosmos in June 1979, he was quickly hired to coach the New Jersey Americans of the American Soccer League. The following season, he returned to coach in the NASL as coach of the Fury.
He later managed Canadian sides FC Inter-Montréal of the Canadian Professional Soccer League in 1983 and Montreal Impact in 1993 of the American Professional Soccer League and lastly the Major League Soccer side New York/New Jersey MetroStars in 1996.
The Middle East
Firmani coached in the Middle East during the mid-to-late 1980s, and in the early 1990s. He worked as a manager in both Kuwait and later in Oman. He mentioned in an interview how he and his wife had "liked it in Oman", and then described how he had led Sur to the first division for the first time in the club's history. After Sur was promoted to first division, Mohammed Bahwan, son of famous Omani car-dealership owner, Saud Bahwan, gave Firmani and members of the club large bonuses.
He was also held captive during the First Gulf War, but was released unharmed.
|Italy national team|
|1.||11 November 1956||Wankdorfstadion, Bern||Switzerland||1–1||1–1||1956 Dr. Gerö Cup|
|2.||23 March 1958||Praterstadion, Vienna||Austria||2–1||2–3||1958 Dr. Gerö Cup|
- Moses, Sam. "All the way with Tampa Bay," Sports Illustrated, September 1, 1975 (article on page 48). Retrieved December 12, 2020
- "NASL-". www.nasljerseys.com. Retrieved 25 July 2018.
- Harris, Nick (19 May 2010). "From Cape Town to NY, via Charlton: the footballing life of Eddie Firmani". the Guardian. Retrieved 25 July 2018.
- Yannis, Alex. "SIDELINES; Continuous Success in Volatile Corner". Retrieved 25 July 2018.
- "Eddie Firmani – profile". European Football. Retrieved 6 January 2012.