Player Profile: Mantorras PDF Print E-mail

MantorrasFull name: Pedro Manuel Torres

Position: Forward

Date of Birth: 18 March 1982

Birthplace: Huambo, Angola

 

There now seems little likelihood that Pedro Mantorras will ever blossom into the global football superstar he seemed destined to become. Yet there is absolutely no doubt that he is, and will always remain, one of Benfica’s most popular players of all time.

The remarkable rise towards stardom of the Angolan was cruelly blighted by a serious injury in 2002. A two-year absence coupled with seemingly endless operations on his right knee have left the striker still unable to play more than 45 minutes for risk of bringing a definitive end to his career.

But it is far more than compassion that has made Pedro Mantorras such a phenomenon of popularity. He is charitable off the pitch, channelling much of his comparative fortune back to his homeland. His exciting playing style gets fans off their seats. Yet he has never lost his retiring and modest demeanour.

Humble origins


These traits no doubt derive from his difficult start to life. Mantorras, the son of refugees who had fled Angola’s bloody civil war, was a prodigious talent discovered in the slums of the capital Luanda. Such was his potential that upon being spotted arrangements were quickly made to send him to Portugal.

At Alverca, the goals soon flowed with many saying he was the most exciting talent to emerge out of Portuguese Africa since Eusebio. Ten goals in 18 starts led to a scramble for his signature, with Benfica pipping the likes of Barcelona. Mantorras continued his free-scoring ways in his first season at Benfica. A powerful mixture of strength, skill, and speed saw the 19-year-old score 13 goals in the 2001/02 campaign, and he was voted the African Young Player of the Year.

Former Benfica and Portugal legend, Antonio Simoes:


“Mantorras had huge potential. At the time he moved to Benfica he had a bit of Eusebio, a bit of Pele, a bit of Van Basten. If he had not had the bad luck to get injured he would have been one of the best players in the world. That’s an absolute certainty.”


His bravery had already brought him his fair share of knocks, leading Benfica’s hierarchy to criticise the treatment meted out to him by opposition defenders with what would become the famous “Deixem jogar o Mantorras! (Let Mantorras play!)” plea.

The words would acquire poignant significance as the striker suffered a knee ligament rupture in December 2002. After returning from surgery Mantorras broke down again, leading to accusations that he had been rushed back too soon as his cartilage suffered further damage. The striker was sent to Spain where a reputed Barcelona-based surgeon performed two more operations on the young Angolan.

Key role

Just as Mantorras’ footballing future was in doubt, he exploded back onto the scene playing a crucial role in the second half of the season during Benfica’s championship triumph in 2004/05. A series of late goals as a second-half substitute propelled Benfica to their first Portuguese title in eleven years.

The sight and sound of Benfica fans rising to applaud Mantorras warming up during the second half has become a feature of matches at the Estadio da Luz, and the Angolan continues to make crucial contributions when called upon.

by Tom Kundert (15/02/2007)

Club Appearances* Goals
Alverca 31 10
Benfica** 97 28
     
 ANGOLA** 17 4

* League appearances only

** Up to 5 March 2009

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