Bernabé Ferreyra

Bernabé Ferreyra (12 February 1909 – 22 May 1972) was an Argentine association football forward. He was one of the first professional players in Argentine football to reach great popularity, to the point that he had a movie biography. Ferreyra is also the only player in the history of Argentine football whose number of goals scored is higher than matches played (206/197).[1]

Bernabé Ferreyra
Bernabe Ferreyra.jpg
Personal information
Date of birth (1909-02-12)12 February 1909
Place of birth Rufino, Argentina
Date of death 22 May 1972(1972-05-22) (aged 63)
Position(s) Forward
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1927–1932 Tigre 43 (45)
1930–1931Vélez Sársfield (loan) 0 (0)
1932–1939 River Plate 185 (187)
National team
1930–1937 Argentina 4 (0)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Throughout his career he was known as "El Mortero de Rufino",[2][3] due to his capacity as a striker and his strong kick. He was also known as La Fiera (Spanish for "The Wild Animal"). It is said that this nickname was born when Hugo Marini (a journalist for Crítica) overheard a conversation between an old man and a boy, in which the old man said "He's not a man. He's a beast" while referring to Ferreyra.

Playing careerEdit


La Fiera firing his fearsome cannon shot in River Plate

Ferreyra was born in the city of Rufino, Santa Fe Province. His debut in football was at 14 years old in Jorge Newbery, a local club from his home town. At the age of 18 he went to Buenos Aires & Pacific Railway (BAP), a club of Junín, Buenos Aires Province. His senior career started in 1926 playing for Newell's Old Boys, then moving to Tigre. Ferreyra would score four goals to El Porvenir in his debut match.

He was given on loan to Huracán for a tour to Brazil, where he played eight matches scoring 11 goals. Between 1930 and 1931, Tigre loaned him for free to Vélez Sársfield, to play with the club during their Pan-American tour.[4] He scored 38 goals with the team during the tour.[4]

In 1932, Ferreyra was transferred from Tigre to River Plate for a record transfer fee of $50,000, the first time the world record fee was broken outside the United Kingdom.[5][6] He kept this record for a total of 17 years – the longest unbroken time period for this record.

His first match with River was on 13 March 1932 against Chacarita Juniors. River won 3–1 and Ferreyra scored 2 goals. Bernabé played a total of 185 matches for River, scoring 187 goals, with an average of 1,01 goal per game. He won 3 Primera División titles, all of them in River Plate (1932, 1936 and 1937). In the 1932 season he was the top scorer with 43 goals. This also gave him the title of top scorer in South America.[7]

Ferreyra and fans during his last match in 1939.

Ferreyra's last match played was on 11 May 1939 against Newell's Old Boys. The match ended 2–2 and Ferreyra did not score. He retired at the early age of 29 and never accepted being a coach.[2]

Ferreyra, along Valeriano López and Arthur Friedenreich, are the only American professional footballers with an average of more than 1 goal per match. Bernabé totaled 206 goals in 197 games from the beginning of the professional era in 1931 to his retirement in 1939.

His fame and striking strength was such that the newspaper Crítica gave a prize to the first goalkeeper that played Ferreyra without receiving a goal.[8] The prize was awarded to Cándido De Nicola of Huracán (despite still suffering one goal in a 1-1 draw).


Ferreyra debuted in Argentina national football team on May 25, 1931, against Uruguay in a Copa Lipton match, although he did not play well and was criticized by journalists. His run at national team was brief and he did not participate in any FIFA World Cups.

Personal lifeEdit

He married Juanita in 1936 and had two children, Bernabé Daniel and Carlos Alberto.


In words of some teammates and famous players and Bernabé Ferreyra himself:[1]

My brothers persisted in telling me I had to be the stronger shooter in town. They made me kick the ball from morning to afternoon, every day. They used to encourage me shouting: 'Harder, even harder!'

I prefer to retire from football before football retires from me

'So you are "La Fiera" (The Fierce): I wanted to meet you', said Carlos Gardel to Ferreyra, who answered: 'No, master, it is you who are "La Fiera" when singing'

Bernabé was an exceptional player: his rivals had to work on him twice as much as with other players. For all of us, his teammates, he made things easier. But as a man, he was valued more. Bernabé earned as much money as he wanted but he was not concerned with keeping it. He gave other people a lot of money, without asking for anything in return. When he shook your hand, you could be sure that you had a friend for the rest of your life .(José Manuel Moreno)


  1. ^ a b La Fiera fue tan ídolo como Gardel on La Nación, 22 May 2001
  2. ^ a b[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ El Diario/LA PRENSA OnLine Archived September 30, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ a b "Historia del Club Atlético Vélez Sársfield" (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 2009-09-08. Retrieved 2010-10-27.
  5. ^ Historical Soccer Transfers Archived June 26, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ "Feature Article – World Soccer News". Archived from the original on 2011-06-29. Retrieved 2007-05-15.
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-03-10. Retrieved 2007-05-15.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^ River Plate Online – Bernabé Ferreyra Archived April 29, 2007, at the Wayback Machine

External linksEdit