In our quest to decide Fiorentina’s greatest-ever XI, we’ve reached the point where it’s time to round out the defense by picking the leftback. The only one most of us saw live is, of course, Manuel Pasqual, but the others deserve careful consideration as well. As always, feel free to write in any candidates you like who aren’t listed here.
1. Sergio Castelletti
The 7-time capped man from the comune of Casale Monferrato in Alessandria came to Florence in 1958 and stayed for 8 years, during which he racked up 214 appearances. Along with Enzo Robotti, he was considered one of the finest defenders on the peninsula throughout his Viola stay, one that led the Gigliati to a decent pile of silverware: the Cup Winner’s Cup (1958), the Coppa Italia (1961 and 1966), and the Mitropa Cup (1966). He spent awhile coaching the Viola Primavera in the 80s as well, and died aged just 66 in Florence. He didn’t score a single goal in his professional career, but that wasn’t really what he was about. Rather, he simply denied opposing forwards any space, any time, and any chance to do anything, and that’s why he’s one of the greats.
2. Sergio Cervato
Perhaps the most decorated member of this group, Cervato grew up near Padua but made his professional breakthrough with Fiorentina, joining from Bolzano in 1948 and staying until 1959, when he was sold to Juventus to make room for the younger Castelletti. Forming a brilliant partnership with Ardico Magnini, Cervato captained the Viola to their first Scudetto in 1956, as well as 4 runner-up campaigns, as well as a 2nd-place finish in the Champions League in 1957 that featured a ghost penalty for hosts Real Madrid in the final. While his defending was of the highest order—that’s how you earn 25 caps for Italy—he was a serious threat going forward as well, scoring 31 goals for the Viola and 4 for the Azzurri. A confident taker of penalties and possessed of a wicked left foot to test the keeper from open play and free kicks, he utilized his pace, quickness, and intelligent positioning to break up attacks before they got started. He died in 2005 at the age of 75, already a club legend.
3. Alberto di Chiara
Primarily known for his attacking prowess, the AS Roma youth product landed in Florence in 1986 after a stint with Lecce. Originally a winger, Brazilian manager Sebastião Lazaroni moved him to the defense, where he thrived, racking up 171 appearances. He was every inch the modern fullback: fast, dangerous with the ball at his feet, tireless on the overlap, and always willing to whip in a cross. He earned 7 caps for Italy, although they all came after his move to Parma in 1991. However, his goal-scoring prowess (17 in the purple shirt) and general contribution to the attack endeared him to Viola fans, even if the club didn’t win anything during his time there—although, if history were a bit kinder, he could have lifted 1990 UEFA Cup final, which Fiorentina lost to Juve after selling Roberto Baggio to their rivals. Either way, he was a fast, fun, attacking player from the back, and certainly deserves a place on this list at the very least.
4. Manuel Pasqual
Although he was born just outside of Venice, people will remember Manny as a Tuscan. He joined from Arezzo in 2005 for an eye-catching €6 million, aged just 23, and went on to spend 11 years with Fiorentina; his 356 club appearances are good for second-most in team history, behind only the immortal Giancarlo Antognoni. The way he was forced out of the club after more than a decade of faithful service still makes a lot of us pretty mad, although it’s pretty great that he ended up at local rivals Empoli, where he’s currently the captain and, at 36, one of Serie A’s elder statesmen. Best known for his tireless overlapping down the left and the steady stream of crosses that came curling off his boot, he tallied 10 goals (mostly from free kicks) and 38 assists during his time in Florence and earned 11 caps for Italy. A quiet, reserved figure who led by example, he was the club captain from 2012 until 2015, and is remembered fondly by the Viola faithful.
Who is Fiorentina’s greatest-ever leftback?
This poll is closed
3. di Chiara
5. Someone else I’ll name in the comments