Former Real Madrid legend Alfredo Di Stefano dies aged 88
Di Stefano led Real to five consecutive European Cup triumphs
Born in Argentina, Di Stefano widely regarded as one of best players of all time
Former Real Madrid star Alfredo Di Stefano, widely regarded as one of the greatest footballers of all time, has died at the age of 88.
A statement published on the La Liga team’s website confirmed that di Stefano had passed away Monday at Madrid’s General Universitario Gregorio Maranon.
“Real Madrid president Florentino Perez and the club’s board of directors would like to express their deepest condolences and their love and affection towards his children, friends and family,” the club’s statement read.
“Real Madrid extends these condolences to all the Madridistas of the world and those who feel the loss of the best player of all time.”
Honorary president of the Spanish giants since 2000, Di Stefano was admitted to hospital on Saturday after suffering a heart attack near Madrid’s Bernabeu Stadium.
Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Di Stefano led Los Blancos to five consecutive European Cup triumphs from 1956 to 1960 and was named European Footballer of the Year twice in 1957 and 1959.
He was equally successful in domestic football, winning eight Spanish league titles and one Copa del Rey.
Real’s Perez is due to make a further statement at the Bernabeu later on Monday, the club’s Website said.
Remarkably Di Stefano played at international level for three nations but never appeared at the World Cup.
He won six caps for Argentina and played four times for Colombia, though his Colombian caps are not recognized by world governing body FIFA.
In 1957, FIFA gave Di Stefano permission to play for Spain after he gained Spanish citizenship and the Real star went to win 31 caps for La Roja.
Former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson was among the many leading figures in the game to pay tribute to Di Stefano, saying he was “very sad” to hear the news.
“The great question that always comes up is who are the greatest players,” Ferguson told Sky Sports News.
“Obviously there is a list of great ones like (Johan) Cruyff, (Diego) Maradona and Pele and of course (Ferenc) Puskas and of course Di Stefano – I thought he was one of the greatest in my mind.
“He had a fantastic balance and poise. If you look at one of the goals he scored in the (1960 European Cup) final against Eintracht Frankfurt it was completely what we are saying about the balance and poise, unbelievable he was.”