UK & World News

  • 7 July 2014, 20:09

Real Madrid Legend Alfredo Di Stefano Dies

Real Madrid player Alfredo Di Stefano, considered one of the greatest footballers in history, has died after suffering a heart attack two days ago.

During his 11 years with Real Madrid, he scored 308 goals and won 18 trophies, becoming the Spanish league's top scorer on five occasions.

Renowned for his speed, versatility and strategic grasp of the game, DiStefano, who turned 88 on Friday, was key to Real Madrid winning the European Cup five years in a row, from 1956-60. He scored at least one goal in all five finals.

On their website, the club describe Di Stefano, their honorary president, as the "best footballer of all time".

Di Stefano - nicknamed the Blond Arrow - suffered a heart attack on Saturday.

He passed away at Gregorio Maranon hospital in Madrid at 5.15pm local time on Monday.

"The President of Real Madrid Florentino Perez and club Board would like to express its deepest condolences and all their love and affection to their children, their families and friends," said the club.

"The Real Madrid CF extends condolences to those Madridistas around the world and those who feel emotion loss best player of all time (sic)."

Di Stefano, who was born in Buenos Aires but played 31 matches for Spain, won the Ballon d'Or for the world's best player in 1957 and 1959 - but never played in a World Cup.

He also had two short spells as manager of Real Madrid in the early 80s and early 90s.

Some of football's biggest names have been paying tribute.

Current Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo said on Twitter: "Don Alfredo leaves us, but his memory will last forever in our hearts. Legends never die. Thanks for everything Maestro. #EternoAlfredo."

Former England star Gary Linker tweeted: "Alfredo Di Stefano has died. One of the greatest players ever. Scored in 5 successive European Cup finals. A feat never to be matched. #RIP".

And Manchester United great Sir Bobby Charlton said he was "deeply saddened", calling Di Stefano "one of the best players I ever came across".

Sky News Sports Correspondent Paul Kelso said tributes to the player are almost certain to feature at the final games of the World Cup in Brazil.

Di Stefano's native Argentina take on the Netherlands on Wednesday in the semi-final.

Kelso said: "If football had a Mount Rushmore, Di Stefano would probably be the first face carved upon it.

"He elevated Real from a club that struggled to win Spanish championships to dominance of Europe ... he's left a legacy that's echoed down the ages."