Voices Tuesday, July 08, 2014 - 05:30
Abheek Dasgupta | The News Minute | July 8, 2014 | 08:07 am IST Alfredo Di Stéfano, the former Argentine-Spanish footballer, best known for his spell with the Spanish football club Real Madrid C.F. and widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time, passed away on Monday after suffering from a heart attack on Saturday afternoon near the UEFA Champions League holders' stadium, the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu. He was 88. After suffering a cardiac arrest that reportedly lasted around 18 minutes, the Honorary President of Real Madrid was kept in an induced coma in the coronary unit of a hospital in the Spanish capital. However, his condition took a turn for the worse and he breathed his last on Monday afternoon. A Real Madrid statement read: ‘Real Madrid announces that Honorary President Alfredo Di Stefano has passed away today at 5.15pm at the General Universatario Gregorio Maranon Hospital in Madrid.  ‘The President of Real Madrid, Florentino Perez and the Sporting Director of the club wish to express their deepest condolences and pass on all their care and affection to his children, relatives and friends.  ‘Real Madrid extends its condolences to Maridistas throughout the world and to all those who are affected by the loss of the greatest player of all time.’Nicknamed 'saeta rubia' or the blond arrow, Di Stefano could play anywhere on the pitch, but he was best known as a powerful forward. He is Real Madrid's second highest league scorer of all time, behind Raúl, scoring an astounding 216 goals in 282 games. Born in Buenos Aires, Di Stefano started his football career in one of Argentina's biggest clubs, River Plate in 1943, aged 17. Six years later, he moved to Colombia, playing for the Millonarios of Bogotá, where he won three titles. However, it was his performances in Real Madrid that made him internationally renowned. He was signed by the club in July 1953. Him and legendary Hungarian footballer Ferenc Puskás, formed one of the most devastating striker partnerships of all time. He was a part of the Los Blancos team that won the European Cup five years in a row, with him scoring a goal in the final of every one of those triumphs. Till date, he is the only player to score in five finals of the European Cup, or its successor, the UEFA Champions League. While he has had one of the most successful club careers ever, he was not equally successful in international football. He represented three countries in his career - Argentina, Colombia and Spain. It is a pity for the World Cup that one of the most talented players of all time never got a chance to play in it, with Argentina not being a part of FIFA, and a muscle injury preventing him from representing Spain in the 1962 edition. Di Stefano was ranked fourth, behind Pelé, Diego Maradona and Johan Cruyff, in a vote organised by the French weekly magazine to elect the Football Player of the Century. Players such as Pelé and Eusébio have called him "the most complete footballer in the history of the game."                                                            

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