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Alfredo di Stéfano
Alfredo di stefano1947.jpg
Personal information
Full name Alfredo di Stéfano Laulhé
Date of birth 4 July 1926 (1926-07-04) (age 83)
Place of birth Buenos Aires, Argentina
Height 1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)
Playing position Attacking midfielder
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1943–1949 River Plate 65 (49)
1946–1947 Huracán (loan) 25 (10)
1949–1953 Millonarios 102 (88)
1953–1964 Real Madrid 282 (216)
1964–1966 Espanyol 47 (11)
Total 521 (374)
National team
1947–1949 Argentina 6 (6)
1949–1954 Colombia 4 (0)
1954–1961 Spain 31 (23)
Teams managed
1967–1967 Elche
1969–1970 Boca Juniors
1970–1974 Valencia
1974–1974 Sporting
1975–1976 Rayo Vallecano
1976–1977 Castellón
1979–1980 Valencia
1981–1982 River Plate
1982–1984 Real Madrid
1985 Boca Juniors
1986–1988 Valencia
1990–1991 Real Madrid
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).

Alfredo di Stéfano Laulhé (born 4 July 1926 in Barracas, Buenos Aires) is an Argentine - Spanish former 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"),[1][2][3] 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.[4] 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 player "ever"[5]). Di Stéfano was voted fourth, behind Pelé, Diego Maradona, and Johan Cruijff, in a vote organised by the French weekly magazine France Football consulting their former Ballon d'Or winners to elect the Football Player of the Century [6]


Club playing career

Di Stéfano 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. 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.


Controversy surrounding transfer to Spain

Di Stéfano's transfer to Spain would prove controversial. The mission to secure the signing of di Stéfano to Barcelona had first been given to Ramón Trias Fargas, who, besides being a lawyer and expert in commercial law, was the son of one of the share-holders of Millonarios, where di Stéfano was playing at the time. According to Trias Fargas, Barcelona's own management effectively obstructed the transfer when club president Marti Carreto also involved Barcelona chief scout Josep Samitier in the negotiations. Samitier, in his turn, brought in his Colombian friend, Joan Busquets, to speed up the talks with the Colombian club. Busquets, a director of Millonarios' rivals Santa Fé, seem to have tried more to sabotage the deal than to secure it. After issuing a harsh ultimatum to Millonarios to accept a modest offer for the player he organized di Stéfano's defection from Colombia when the ultimatum was rejected, despite Di Stéfano owing the club money. River Plate, who owned the rights of the player from 1955 onwards, had accepted the transfer on the condition that Millonarios also agreed upon the transfer, which they, after what they perceived as Busquets' bullying tactics, weren't interested in doing. Trias Fargas' negotiations with the Colombians regarding a transfer sum were also breaking down when Carreto, despite assurances to Trias Fargas that he would pay whatever price Trias Fargas thought necessary, rejected a figure whenever it was agreed between the lawyer and the Colombians. Trias Fargas blamed Carreto claiming Barcelona directors had allowed him to spend $20,000 but Carreto only accepted to offer $10,000 plus the player's debts.

In 1953, di Stéfano signed a deal with Barcelona and FIFA, who didn't know anything about di Stéfano having left Millonarios without permission, authorized the transfer from River Plate. The Spanish Federation, however, did not recognize the deal. According to Andres Ramírez, the Spanish Football Federation secretary, both Millonarios (who owned the rights of the player until the end of 1954, according to the agreements reached in the Lima Pact) and River Plate's consent were needed in order for di Stéfano to sign up with a Spanish club. Indeed Millonarios had reported FIFA the anomalous situation of the Argentinian, so FIFA iteself demanded the Spanish Federation to solve the problem. On 13 May 1953, he arrived in Spain to conclude his contract with Barcelona but during the discussions with the Federation, Real Madrid's president Santiago Bernabéu, acting upon the apparent division within the Barcelona management, convinced him to sign for them instead.

During the parallel negotiations between the two Spanish clubs and Millonarios, the Spanish Federation issued a ban on foreign players in the Spanish league. On 15 September, the Spanish Federation made public the decision, which club presidents Carreto and Bernabéu had signed, to allow di Stéfano four seasons in Spain - two for each team, to be played alternately. The agreement created such a storm of protests by the rest of the Barcelona management and the fans that Carreto resigned a week later. The reasons for Barcelona's decision to let the player go to Madrid are disputed by the two clubs. While Real Madrid have always maintained it was a voluntary decision by Barcelona, their rivals held that it was a decision made under pressure from Franco's government.This incident exacerbated the traditional enmity between the two clubs.[7]

International playing career

Di Stéfano played with three different national teams during his career: he played six times with the Argentine national team, four times with Colombia (not recognized by FIFA) and 31 times with the Spanish national team. However, he never played in the World Cup Finals.

World Cup absence

The first World Cup in which he would have been able to participate was the 1950 tournament. As Argentina refused to participate, di Stéfano (aged 24) missed his first chance at playing in the World Cup.

For the 1954 World Cup, Argentina did not enter and FIFA declared di Stéfano was not eligible to play because he had previously been capped by both Argentina and Colombia.

He acquired Spanish citizenship in 1956, and played four World Cup qualifying matches for Spain in 1957, but the team failed to qualify for the 1958 World Cup.

In 1961, di Stéfano (36) who had already won 5 European Cups, helped Spain qualify for the World Cup of 1962. A muscular injury just before the competition prevented him from playing in the finals.[8] He retired from international football after that.

Managerial career

After retirement, he moved into coaching. He guided the Argentine clubs Boca Juniors and River Plate to league titles, and won La Liga and the Copa del Rey with Valencia as well as the European Cup Winners' Cup with the side in 1980. He also managed Sporting in the 1974/75 season and Real Madrid between 1982 and 1984.

After Retirement

Alfredo Di Stéfano currently resides in Spain. On 5 November 2000 he was named President of Honour of Real Madrid.

On 24 December 2005, 79-year-old di Stéfano suffered a heart attack, but made a full recovery.

Alfredo Di Stéfano once said of Diego Maradona "Technically, on an individual basis, he is far superior to me in what he can do with a ball; my ability to cover an entire field and versatility is what I hold over him, though with the right training he could easily do the same."

On the other hand, Maradona has also had words praising di Stéfano. In comments made to RAI television in 1997, he said, "I don't know if I was a better player than Pelé, but I can say without any doubt that di Stéfano was better than Pelé. I am proud when one speaks of di Stéfano... I can say that Maradona could be worse than Pelé. But I emphasize di Stéfano was better".

On 9 May 2006, The Alfredo di Stéfano Stadium was inaugurated at the City of Real Madrid, where Real Madrid usually trains. The inaugural match was between Real Madrid and Stade de Reims, a rematch of the European Cup final won by Real Madrid in 1956. Real Madrid won the inaugural match in the Alfredo di Stéfano Stadium by 6-1 with goals from Sergio Ramos, Antonio Cassano -2-, Roberto Soldado -2-, and José Manuel Jurado.

Former England Player Bobby Charlton on Di Stefano:

"Pele was magnificent, but the greatest player I ever saw was Di Stefano. He was the brainiest player I ever saw. And I always saw him in his thirties. He must have been really something at 19."

Career statistics

Club performance League Cup League Cup Continental Total
Season Club League Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Argentina League Cup League Cup South America Total
1944 River Plate Primera División 0 0
1945 1 0
1946 Huracán 25 10
1947 River Plate 30 27
1948 23 13 6 4
1949 12 9
Colombia League Cup League Cup South America Total
1949 Los Millonarios 15 15
1950 29 23
1951 34 31
1952 24 19
Spain League Copa del Rey Copa de la Liga Europe Total
1953/54 Real Madrid La Liga 28 27
1954/55 30 25
1955/56 30 24 7 5
1956/57 30 31 8 7
1957/58 30 19 7 10
1958/59 28 23 7 6
1959/60 23 12 8 9
1960/61 23 21 2 0
1961/62 23 11 10 7
1962/63 13 12 2 1
1963/64 24 11 9 5
1964/65 Espanyol 24 7
1965/66 23 4
Total Argentina 90 59
Colombia 102 88
Spain 329 227
Career Total 521 377




and Spain

Individual honours

  • Argentine League Top Scorer
    • 1947
  • Colombian League Top Scorer
    • 1951, 1952
  • Pichichi Trophy
    • 1954, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959
  • Ballon d'Or
    • 1957, 1959
  • European Cup Top Scorer
    • 1958, 1962
  • Spanish Player (Athlete) of the Year
    • 1957, 1959, 1960, 1964
  • FIFA 100



  • (Autobiography) Di Stéfano, Alfredo (2000). Gracias, Vieja: Las Memorias del Mayor Mito del Futbol. Madrid: Aguilar. ISBN 8403092008.  

External links

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