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
Before his time as a @RealMadrid superstar, Alfredo Di Stéfano started his career in Buenos Aires with @RiverPlate ??
In our collection we have his 1947 club shirt and medal ??
Since then he has represented not one but three countries internationally. Can you name them? ? pic.twitter.com/O6m73xz2Kz
— FIFA Museum (@FIFAMuseum) September 22, 2019
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?
Bartomeu: “The Di Stefano affair was very sad for Barcelona”.
— AS English (@English_AS) January 24, 2014
Complicated, yes, but as they say, the rest is history.
First European Cup Win
Real Madrid great Alfredo Di Stéfano was born #OnThisDay in 1926.
? 369 RM games
?? 308 RM goals
Copa del Rey
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) July 4, 2018
?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.
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