Alfredo di Stefano

Alfredo Di Stefano had grown up kicking a ball around the streets of Buenos Aires and had gone on to play for the River Plate team of the 1940’s, which many Argentineans still believe to be the greatest club team in their history. From there he had been lured to Colombia’s rebel professional league to play for Millonarios where he scored an incredible 267 goals in 292 games. In 1953, Di Stefano and his Millonarios team visited Spain as part of their world tour. While there, the Colombian side was invited to play an exhibition match against Real Madrid as part of a tournament to celebrate Real’s 50th anniversary. The Real crowd and officials were taken aback by the performance of the Colombians dynamic blond player. Di Stefano was not only impressive as a striker, he also appeared all over the pitch, performing every task and showing his all round qualities. Under Di Stefano’s dynamic leadership, Millonarios won the tournament and Real President Santiago Bernabeu realised who he needed to make his Real Madrid team great. The fact that the Colombian League had broken away from FIFA, however, meant that any potential transfer was bound to be fraught with administrative difficulties. Real paid the Colombians $50,000 for Di Stefano, but their great rivals Barcelona had drawn up a contract with River Plate who still held Di Stefano’s official registration – confusion reigned. In stepped the Spanish FA to sort out the mess and they decided that Di Stefano should play for each club in turn, one season at a time. Nobody was happy with that arrangement and eventually, Real's club treaurer Raimondo Saporta persuaded Barcelona to sell out their share to Real in exchange for a $70,000 fee. The very next day, the two teams met and Di Stefano scored four times as he inspired Real to a 5-0 victory. Di Stefano’s influence, as well as his 27 goals in 30 games, saw Real Madrid go on to win the Spanish Championship in 1954 for the first time in 21 years, but this was just the start of their golden era.

He went on to win five European Cups and eight Spanish titles with Real Madrid and is thought by many to be the greatest player in the history of the game. He scored in five consecutive European Cup Finals and scored a total of 49 goals in the European Cup. He scored 218 goals in 282 games for Real Madrid and was named European Footballer of the Year in both 1957 and 1959.

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