Fact file on the “most complete player ever": Alfredo Di Stefano
Living in a football world that celebrates every new Chelsea or Manchester United signing as a “gamechanger,” perhaps we understate the superstars in black-and-white.
This year we’ve already lost Portuguese legend Eusebio, who some said was more gifted than Pele. Now, the Blond Arrow has died; Alfredo Di Stefano passed away Monday at the age of 88.
Just how good was this player, described by contemporaries as “the most complete player of all-time”?
The Di Stefano File
-- Born on July 4, 1926 in Buenos Aires.
-- Scored in each of five consecutive European Cup finals for Real Madrid, one of only two players to play in each win (Francisco Gento).
-- Two-time Ballon d’Or winner: 1957 & 1959.
-- Spanish player of the year: 1957, 1959, 1960, 1964
-- Scored six goals in six games for Argentina national team before scoring 23 in 31 for Spain.
-- Scored 216 goals in 282 appearances for Real Madrid, 102 in 90 for Millonarios and 49 in 66 for River Plate.
-- Voted fourth-greatest living footballer in 2004, behind Pele, Maradona and Johan Cruyff.
-- Never played in a World Cup, as Argentina didn’t enter in 1950 and 1954, and Spain failed to qualify in 1958. He helped Spain qualify in 1962 but was hurt before the tournament.
-- Recorded eight multi-goal games for country, including hat tricks for Argentina against Colombia in the 1947 South American Championship and for Spain against the Netherlands in a 1957 friendly.
-- Managed a boatload of teams from 1967-1991: Valencia, Real Madrid, Boca Juniors, Sporting CP and River Plate among them.
-- Honorary president of Real Madrid from 2000 until his death.
-- Was kidnapped in Venezuela in 1963.