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Alfredo Di Stefano Biography


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Line up
Name:Alfredo Stefano di Stefano Laulhe
Date of Birth:4th of July 1926
Place of Birth:Buenos Aires, Argentina
Playing Position:Forward
Teams Played for:Clubs - River Plate, Huracan, Millonarios, Real Madrid, and Espanyol
Countries:Argentina, Colombia, and Spain
Teams Coached Notably:Valencia, Real Madrid

Kick Off
In the best-ever players’ list, Alfredo di Stefano would surely be there along with the likes of Pele,Maradona, Cruyff, and Zinedine Zidane. Considered one of the most complete footballers of all times, with an ability to drop deep and create goals along with finish with aplomb, Alfredo di Stefano ushered Real Madrid into the group of the greatest clubs of all times. He was key in their being nominated as the greatest club of the 20th century, leading them to 5 straight Champions League victories. He was the mid-field orchestrator of the great Madrid line-up comprising of Puskas,Gento ,Kopa, Pachin, etc., though his goal-scoring prowess was unparalleled as well. His importance to Spanish game can be seen when he was awarded the best player of the past 50 years by Spain’s Football Federation.
His-Story
Alfredo di Stefano was born in the humble neighborhood of Barracas in Buenos Aires. As he lived near the docks, he had more space to ply his trade and practise football rather than the crowded by-lanes of Buenos Aires. His talent was quickly recognized by the legendary River Plate club who had signed him at the age of 17. He was sent on loan to Huracan, but came back a year later. Due to a footballers’ strike in Argentina due to poor wages, Di Stefano went to Colombian Club, Millonarios. His exploits in Bogota, where he scored 90 goals in just 103 appearances helping Millonarios win 3 league championships, were closely followed by the bigger clubs of Europe.

Di Stefano, at the age of 27, had just reached the best years of his career and a move to Europe seemed imminent. Barcelona and Real Madrid - both vied for his signature, but due to Barcelona’s infighting Real Madrid came out on trumps and secured his signature, with Santiago Bernabeu playing a key role in taking him away from Barcelona’s grasp.

Di Stefano’s first season in Real Madrid was hugely successful with them winning the La liga and he carried on this form in the next season helping them to win consecutive trophies. But this was just the tip of the iceberg. There was lots more success to come and this was with the inauguration of the European Cup, a precursor to the modern Champions League. In 1956, Real Madrid went on to win the first European Cup defeating Stade Reims 4-3 in the final.

This form carried on for the next 4 years which led Real Madrid to winning an unimagined 5 European Cups in a row. Notable finals were against AC Milan where a tightly contested final was won in extra time and a high scoring final against Eintracht Frankfurt eventually leading to a 7-3 scoreline. But Real Madrid were on the decline post this season with new forces such as Benfica and Inter Milan along with a revamped AC Milan developing with vigor. Yet Real Madrid did not collapse too drastically, as they continued winning the La Liga on a consistent basis and were always within the last few rounds of the European Cup.

With Di Stefano having achieved superhuman success with Real Madrid, he decided to move on to Espanyol with whom he played till the ripe old age of 40. He later moved on to management, where though he could not replicate the same success which he had seen as a player, his record was decent by any normal standards. He led River Plate and Boca Juniors to League titles along with leading Valencia to the La liga. He went on to lead his beloved Real Madrid on multiple occasions, most notably during 1982-83 where Madrid narrowly missed the La Liga title by one point. He hung his managerial boots in 1991 with Real Madrid.

Scorecard
Alfredo di Stefano has won 4 Colombian league titles, the Argentinian league title 2 times, La liga a mind-boggling 8 times, The European Cup 5 times, The Ballon D’Or twice, and The Pichichi trophy 5 times. As a Manager, he won the Argentinian league twice, the La liga once, and finished runners up once in the La liga, Super Cup, Copa del Rey, and Winners’ Cup.

Offside
Alfredo Di Stefano might be the greatest player never to have graced the World Cup scene. He was banned from playing for Argentina after having left River Plate for Millonarios and later when he signed up as a Colombian, Colombia themselves were banned. He later became a Spanish national, but the highly talented team failed to qualify for the World Cup in 1958. Eventually, when Spain qualified in 1962, Di Stefano was unfit to participate in any match.

Extra Trivia
The Real Madrid training ground is named after Di Stefano. Di Stefano is an honorary president of Real Madrid and is seen unveiling marquee signings of Real Madrid.

Last Updated : January 10, 2014

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