Before Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo—before Pele and Diego Mardaona—there was Alfredo di Stefano.
The Argentinian, nicknamed “the Blond Arrow” during his playing days, has died at the age of 88 in Madrid following a heart attack suffered while guiding his friends and family around the Bernabeu one last time.
It was a stadium within which he produced so many amazing moments for Real Madrid, with whom he won five consecutive European Cups between 1956 and 1960, scoring in each of the finals. Few players have achieved the feat of scoring in two back-to-back in the 54 years since the last of those triumphs, let alone five.
His contemporaries, and those who followed him as greats of the game, often describe him as a truly complete player: a phrase uttered by Bobby Charlton, Pele, Eusebio, Luis Suarez (born 1935) and John Charles to describe the Argentine.
Before becoming Real’s first true Galactico , di Stefano played for River Plate, spending a year out on loan with Huracan, Millionaros in Colombia’s El Dorado pirate league and later in his career switched to Espanyol of Barcelona for two years.
In career lasting in excess of 664 competitive club appearances (unreliable record keeping during his time in Colombia means that he may have played more) he scored at least 485 goals, winning medals in South America and Europe.
Yet his victories with Real will forever be remembered as his defining accomplishments. He was their goalscoring, creator, leader who was a striker, a playmaker and a ball-winner all at once, and still tops the club’s all-time scoring charts.
Here Offside displays the choicest images from our extensive gallery of historical football photographs from the L’Equipe archive of the great player—perhaps the greatest. If you would like to find out more about licensing the pictures and their availability, please contact us at www.welloffside.com.
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