5 of the Best Moments of Alfredo Di Stéfano’s Career

Alfredo Di Stéfano is number 12 in 90min’s Top 50 Greatest Footballers of All Time Series.


Despite representing three different nations at some stage, circumstances meant Alfredo Di Stéfano never performed on football’s biggest stage – the FIFA World Cup.

Had he played in and won that competition then he would almost certainly be held in the same regard as the likes of Pelé and Maradona, but an unfulfilled international career means he will have to settle for being the best player to ever have played for world’s most illustrious football club instead.

La Saeta Rubia – or ‘Blonde Arrow’ – joined Real Madrid in controversial circumstances in 1953 and would go on to score a quite frankly ludicrous 308 goals in 396 appearances. He was a key member of the Madrid side that remains the only team to have won five successive European Cups, while the rest of his trophy haul includes eight La Liga titles.

The Godfather of Real Madrid, Di Stéfano can be credited with starting Los Blancos’ obsession with European football’s biggest prize.

Here are five of the biggest and best moments of his stellar career.


1947 Title Win With River Plate

While he made his name in Madrid, Di Stéfano enjoyed a stellar career in South America before making the move to Europe.

In the 1946/47 campaign he was instrumental as La Máquina claimed the title. Aged just 21, Di Stéfano netted 27 times – despite having to leave the squad for compulsory conscription. Some return.


The Di Stéfano Affair?

While you might think the 1950s would come well before the era of blockbusting dramatic transfers à la Luis Figo, Fernando Torres and Zinedine Zidane, Di Stéfano’s eventual move to Real Madrid is one of the most controversial football has ever seen.

Having joined Colombian side Millonarios amid the general strike in Argentina in 1949, the forward returned to the country of his birth in 1952. At that point, Barcelona’s directors approached River Plate in a bid to sign him, but Di Stéfano was still registered with the side from Bogotá until 1954, while River still owned some rights to him and would be back in control from 1955.

The Spanish FA – who ?Barcelona believed were under pressure from the Franco dictatorship – did not recognise the transfer, and neither did a miffed Millonarios, while Madrid had struck a deal with Colombian side in the meantime.

A mightily complex transfer, it was eventually agreed that Barça and Real would share the player, having him for two seasons apiece – in the capital in 1953/54 and 1955/56, with 1954/56 and 1957/58 in Catalonia.

However, with Catalan nationalists unsurprisingly against sharing a player with the Francoist Madrid club in the aftermath of Spain’s civil war, and amid protests and the president resigning, Barcelona decided to scrap their side of the deal.

The drama was dubbed ‘The Di Stéfano Affair’, and almost inevitably his debut would come in a Clásico against Barcelona, where he would net in a 5-0 win.

Complicated, yes, but as they say, the rest is history.


First European Cup Win

?Real Madrid are a club synonymous with the European Cup and the modern day iteration, the ?UEFA Champions League – fact.

With that in mind, it probably won’t shock you to hear that Los Blancos won the inaugural competition in 1956, and Di Stéfano was the star of the show.

The Argentine scored Real’s opening goal as they were forced to come from behind to secure a 4-3 victory over Stade de Reims in Paris.


Ballons D’Or

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Having missed out to Sir Stanley Matthews by just three votes in 1956, Di Stéfano landed his first Ballon D’Or the following year after Los Merengues brushed aside Fiorentina at the Bernabéu in front of 124,000 supporters.

Once again, La Saeta Rubia opened the scoring for Madrid, this time from the penalty spot in the 69th minute as the hosts ran out 2-0 winners and lifted the European Cup on home soil.

His next personal success came in 1959 following just the FOURTH consecutive continental success – a repeat of the 1956 final against Reims (who knew they used to be so good eh?!).

You guessed it – Di Stéfano was on the scoresheet once again as Los Blancos won the game 2-0 in Stuttgart.


Super Ballon D’Or

Winning two Ballons D’Or is one thing, but winning a Super Ballon D’Or is a different kettle of fish entirely.

On Christmas Eve 1989, 30 years on from his European Cup exploits with Los Merengues, Di Stéfano was presented with the unique award by France Football.

Remarkably he remains the only player to have ever had that honour bestowed upon him, essentially recognising him as the best player in a century where the likes of Ferenc Puskás, Eusebio and Johan Cruyff were performing at the highest level in Europe.

It remains to be seen whether anyone will ever receive the honour again, although ?Cristiano Ronaldo and ?Lionel Messi have done their damnedest.


90min’s ‘Top 50 Greatest Footballers of All Time’ can be found here.

Number 50: Luka Modric

Number 49: John Charles

Number 48: Hugo Sanchez

Number 47: Jairzinho

Number 46: Omar Sivori

Number 45: Paolo Rossi

Number 44: Paul Breitner

Number 43: George Weah

Number 42: Kaka

Number 41: Lev Yashin

Number 40: Gunnar Nordahl

Number 39: Kevin Keegan

Number 38: Hristo Stoichkov

Number 37: Gianluigi Buffon

Number 36: Johan Neeskens

Number 35: Xavi Hernandez

Number 34: Luis Suarez

Number 33: Karl-Heinz Rummenigge

Number 32: Andres Iniesta

Number 31: Rivelino

Number 30: Bobby Moore

Number 29: Socrates

Number 28: Sandor Kocsis

Number 27: Lothar Matthaus

Number 26: Ronaldinho

Number 25: Ruud Gullit

Number 24: Bobby Charlton

Number 23: Giuseppe Meazza

Number 22: Raymond Kopa

Number 21: Romario

Number 20: Eusebio

Number 19: Marco van Basten

Number 18: George Best

Number 17: Zico

Number 16: Franco Baresi

Number 15: Cristiano Ronaldo

Number 14: Ferenc Puskas

Number 13: Paolo Maldini

Number 12: Gerd Müller

Number 11: ?Mane Garrincha


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