Di Stéfano with the five European Cups that he won with Real Madrid. :: SUR
Di Stéfano in quotes
On football. “Formations are rigid for those who don’t know how to play. I like footballers to enjoy playing, for the fans to enjoy watching - they pay for it.”
On goals. “A match without a goal is like a Sunday without sun.”
On penalties. “Scoring a goal from a penalty is not the same as scoring from open play. Before, when you scored a penalty, you would apologize to the keeper; now, you run to the fans and take off your shirt.”
After turning 88 last Friday, his heart could not take any more. Alfredo Di Stéfano was one of the greatest players of all time and formed part of the Real Madrid side that won five consecutive European Cups in the 1950s and 1960s.
Total football has lost its icon - a unique figure who was able to play in any position on the pitch and who was years ahead of his time. Respected worldwide on and off the pitch, the Buenos Aires-born star represented Argentina, Colombia and Spain at international level.
Considered among the five best footballers in the history of the game along with Pelé, Cruyff, Maradona and Messi, the ex-Honorary President of Real Madrid managed teams including Real Madrid, Valencia and Boca Juniors during an extensive career.
From humble beginnings, Di Stéfano abandoned his studies aged 15 to work in the family business. But his life was tied to football; two years previously he had passed a trial with River Plate, the team his father played for.
In 1947 he won the Argentinian championship with the club. He then went to Colombia, playing for Millonarios, where he caught the attention of Real Madrid and Barcelona after scoring 90 goals in 102 appearances.
He eventually moved to Real in 1953 and helped the club become the most successful team of the 20th century. Along with winning five European Cups, the club were titled La Liga champions eight times. During his time in Madrid he scored 216 league goals in 262 games, a record that has now been surpassed by Raúl. He is the only player to score in five consecutive European Cup finals and was awarded the Ballon d’Or in 1957 and 1959. After retiring from playing in 1966, he later managed a range of teams including two stints with Real Madrid.
His achievements earned Di Stéfano respect and admiration the world over and on Tuesday thousands of fans, players and figures from the football world paid their respects at the chapel of rest set up at the Santiago Bernabéu. “Di Stéfano is the image of football. He is an idol and legend for everyone,” said the secretary general of UEFA, Gianni Infantino on Monday.