Retro Corner – When ‘Mancio’ the Magician came to town


Few visiting players have ignited the kind of media firestorm that engulfed Paul Pogba during Manchester United’s trip to Perth earlier this month.

But that’s not to say that global superstars haven’t graced us with their presence in pre-seasons past.

So in Retro Corner this week, we’re rewinding all the way back to 1996, in fact to before the club had even made its National Soccer League bow.

When you take a look at the games that the embryonic Glory played in their maiden pre-season campaign that year, one opponent really jumps out and with all due respect to Morley Windmills, Bayswater Panthers All-Stars and Inglewood Falcons, it was not one of them.

Sampdoria is the club in question and bearing in mind that they haven’t exactly set Serie A alight in recent seasons, some context is needed here.

The Genovese outfit were a serious European powerhouse in the early to mid-1990s.

They had won the Serie A title five years prior to their Perth trip, claimed the European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1990, the Coppa Italia in 1994 and were runners-up to Barcelona in the 1992 European Cup Final.

All this at a time when the Italian top-flight was universally acclaimed as the strongest domestic competition in world football.

And the jewel in Samp’s crown during this golden era?

Roberto Mancini.

With his sublime skills, incredible vision and deadly finishing ability, the man with the flowing locks was already firmly established as one of the true greats of the game, forming a strike partnership with Gianluca Vialli which terrorised defences both domestically and in Europe.

By the time he left Samp in 1997, Mancini had racked up a remarkable 424 appearances, scoring 132 goals along the way, both of which remain club records, as well as winning 36 senior caps for his country.

Standing in his way on that May afternoon at the WACA was the core of what would become Glory’s inaugural squad when the NSL campaign began some five months later.

The likes of Gareth and Craig Naven, Scott Miller, Alan Mackenzie, Vas Kalogeracos, Paul Strudwick and Tommy Maras were among those charged with facing the tourists who were managed by none other than Sven Goran Eriksson.

Bearing in mind that Mancini had actually sat on the selection panel that appointed the Swede as Head Coach, it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to suggest that the number ten was effectively in charge on the pitch.

And take charge he did against Glory, scoring twice as the Italians, who also included Sinisa Mihajlovic, Christian Karembeu and Vincenzo Montella in their travelling party, secured a 3-0 victory.

So those are the bare bones of Mancini’s trip to Perth, but what do you remember of the current Italy manager and that high-profile clash at the WACA?

Whether it was Samp’s iconic kit or Vas Kalogeracos’ silky skills that caught your eye, we’d love to hear from you, so please join the conversation via Twitter HERE or Facebook HERE.






The media firestorm surrounding Paul Pogba when he jetted into town with Manchester United earlier this month