Manta celebrating scoring against Uantir at EMU 2012.
|Full name||Mantólio Pellegrino|
|Year of birth||1980|
|Place of birth||Biulya, Craitland|
|2003–15||Biulya äqi Jedu FC|
|* Appearances (Goals) |
Player has received at least one call-up for any emboldened national teams
Mantólio "Manta" Pellegrino, commonly known solely as Manta, is a Craitish former-footballer who last played for Biulya äqi Jedu FC, with whom he spent the entirety of his career. Exclusively a right-sided midfielder with notable crossing ability, Manta is regarded as one of the best midfielders of his generation, and captained both his club and national team to numerous titles. He is a member of Craitland's "Golden Generation".
Manta began his professional career at the age of 22 upon signing for hometown side Biulya äqi Jedu FC ahead of the club's inaugural season. Manta was given the number 7 jersey, which he would wear for his entire career, and was named as the club's captain. Although the club's first few years saw no competitive successes, Manta's individual performances received considerable praise from pundits as he established himself as one of the best wingers in the league and an integral part of the team's starting line-up. BäJ and Manta's first domestic trophy win came in the 2009 season, with the midfielder lifting the King's Cup after the side had finished a then-best third place in the league; a result they repeated the following year. Manta helped the side to the 2011 King's Cup final, where they lost 2–1 to Sverige Tiem FC, though the team were unable to challenge competitively in the subsequent two seasons.
From the 2014 season, Manta's captaincy oversaw the beginning of the club's most successful period. Despite now being into his 30s, Manta remained a consistent starter, despite the acquisition of winger Gianluca Salmoiraghi and a change in regular formation, as he won a second cup and followed up second place in the league—where he added three goals—by winning a first League 1 title in 2015. To top a highly successful season, Manta was part of the side which won the 2014–15 WMFA Champions' League; making BäJ the first Craitish team to win the tournament. In what he called a career high-note, Manta announced his retirement from football in the summer of 2015 at the age of 35, having captained his local club for a total of 13 seasons and winning four titles.
Manta's international career with the Craitish team began in 2006, when he was called-up for the squad for the inaugural FMF World Cup and was subsequently named captain by the team's managers. Manta played in every match during the tournament as the team advanced from their group as winners before being beaten on penalties in the quarter-finals by Nova England. Manta's reliable consistency saw him an ever-present in the following year, as he helped the team to qualify for the 2007 FMF World Cup, where he captained the side to lift the trophy after beating co-hosts Tokidoki in the final, before being a major part of the team which finished in third place at EMU 2007, though his saved penalty in the semi-final shoot-out versus Riponia was decisive in failing to make the final.
In the following year's World Cup, for which Craitland qualified automatically as holders, Manta performed exceptionally well as he captained the team to a second consecutive title in dominant form, as he scored his first FMF World Cup goal to ensure a crucial victory over Shireroth in the group stage. 2009 was somewhat of a dip for Manta and the team as they lost to Passas in the EMU 2009 final before finishing third in the World Cup that year, in which Manta again had a penalty saved in the quarter-finals despite Craitland ultimately overcoming Bobalania in the shoot-out but losing their semi-final. Craitland narrowly qualified for the 2010 FMF World Cup, but topped their group unbeaten as Manta scored in a win over Nova England before winning their knock-out games without conceding a goal for Manta to lift a third World Cup trophy.
Manta was one of a number of higher-profile players who were rested by the managers for EMU 2011, with sights on that year's World Cup, as Hjaņ Herä deputised as captain. Manta returned to the side for the World Cup and led them to a record fourth title thanks to a 1–0 final victory over hosts Shireroth. Although automatic qualifiers once more, Craitland fell in the quarter-finals of the 2012 FMF World Cup, but improved for EMU 2012 later in the year as Manta guided them to finish third whilst adding a goal of his own against Uantir in their group. From 2013, Manta began to share his duties down the right with long-term understudy Tiem Pellegrino Jones, as the team failed to advance from their EMU 2013 group but reached the semi-finals of the 2013 FMF World Cup, where Manta scored a penalty in the quarter-final shoot-out win over North Antarctica before being one of three players unable to convert their kick in the semi-final penalty loss to Mercury. Manta saw little action during 2014's qualifiers, with Jones now fully established as a starter, and missed-out on both of the summer's tournaments' squads for the first time. He announced his international retirement later in the year at the age of 34—one year before hanging his boots up entirely—with over 100 caps to his name and as one of Micras' most decorated international players.
Manta's nephew is fellow midfielder Christian Pellegrino, whom he played alongside at BäJ.