Thursday, December 29, 2011

Alfredo Di Stéfano

Alfredo Stéfano Di Stéfano Laulhé(born 4 July 1926 in Barracas, Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires), born into a family of Italian immigrants from Capri, is a former Argentinian footballer and coach, widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time. He is most associated with Real Madrid and was instrumental in their domination of the European Champions' Cup during the 1950s, a period in which the club won the trophy in five consecutive seasons from 1956. Di Stéfano played international football mostly for Spain, but he also played for Argentina and Colombia.

Di Stéfano, nicknamed "Saeta rubia" ("blond arrow"),was a powerful forward with great stamina, tactical versatility, and vision, who could also play almost anywhere on the pitch. He is currently the 4th highest scorer in the history of Spain's top division, and Real Madrid's 2nd highest league goalscorer of all time, with 216 goals in 282 league matches between 1953 and 1964.

In November 2003, to celebrate UEFA's Jubilee, he was selected as the Golden Player of Spain by the Royal Spanish Football Federation as their most outstanding player of the past 50 years. He was named by Pelé as one of the "top 125 greatest living footballers" in March 2004 (in September 2009 he said Di Stéfano was the best Argentinian player "ever"). Di Stéfano was voted fourth, behind Pelé, Diego Maradona, and Johan Cruyff, in a vote organized by the French weekly magazine France Football consulting their former Ballon d'Or winners to elect the Football Player of the Century.

Former players such as Pelé, Eusébio, Luis Suárez, Sandro Mazzola and John Charles described Di Stefano as "the most complete footballer in the history of the game".

Club playing career
Alfredo Di Stéfano born into a family of Italian immigrants from Nicolosi, near Catania. Began his career at Argentina's River Plate aged 17, in 1943. For the 1946 season he was loaned to Club Atlético Huracán, but he returned to River in 1947. Due to a footballer's strike in Argentina in 1949, Di Stéfano went to play for Millonarios of Bogotá in the Colombian league. He won six league titles during the first 12 years of his career in Argentina and Colombia.

Di Stéfano is best known for his time at Real Madrid where he was an integral part of one of the most successful teams of all time. He scored a club record 216 league goals in 262 games for Real, striking up a fearsome partnership with Ferenc Puskás. Di Stéfano's 49 goals in 58 matches was for decades the all-time highest tally in the European Cup, until it was surpassed by Real Madrid's Raúl in 2005, and Milan's Andriy Shevchenko and Real Madrid's Ruud van Nistelrooy in 2006. Di Stéfano scored in five consecutive European Cup finals for Real Madrid between 1956 and 1960, including a hat-trick in the latter. Perhaps the highlight of his time with the club was their 7–3 victory over Eintracht Frankfurt in the 1960 European Cup Final at Hampden Park, a game many consider to be the finest exhibition of club football ever witnessed in Europe. He was voted European Footballer of the Year in 1957 and 1959.

He moved to Espanyol in 1964 and played there until hanging up his boots at the age of 40.

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