Adolfo Pedernera (3rd from the left) as part of River Plate's legendary La Máquina line-up of 1941.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons / Clarín
Adolfo Pedernera is a legendary figure of Argentinian football and widely accepted as one of the greatest players of the 1940s. Nicknamed "El Maestro" (The Teacher), Pedernera was best known for his phenomenal passing and intelligent play.
Pedernera's talents were obvious from an early age, so it was no surprise that he was asked to train and play with the junior teams of both Huracán and River Plate, starting out with El Globo first of all in 1932 before joining River as a fourteen year old in 1933. He would make his debut for Los Millonarios aged only sixteen and soon established himself as a regular in the side.
Operating mainly as an inside forward, he was a key part of the fabled River Plate team of the 1940s that were known as La Máquina (Spanish for "The Machine"), winning five Argentine league titles alongside other great attacking talents such as Ángel Labruna and José Manuel Moreno. Pedernera and his La Máquina teammates were skilful, adaptable and intelligent enough to be able to interchange positions, one of the earliest examples of a team adopting a dynamic Total Football style of play. He would play for River Plate for eleven years, his last match in the famous red sash jersey coming in 1946.
At international level, Pedernera was part of a great Argentinian side that won three Copa América titles in 1941, 1945 and 1946.
After leaving River Plate for short spells with Atlanta and Huracán, Pedernera enjoyed a great career swansong in Colombia with Millonarios. Argentinian players were heading to the north of the continent as a result of a players' strike in 1948, and Pedernera signed up with fellow countrymen Alfredo Di Stéfano and Néstor Rossi. Pedernera would win the league title four years out of five during his time with Millonarios, and this team would also have its own fantastic nickname... Ballet Azul (the Blue Ballet). The great Di Stéfano himself was quoted as saying that Pedernera was the best player he'd ever seen. High praise indeed.