Alfredo Di Stéfano

Alfredo Di Stéfano
Di Stéfano with Argentina in 1947
Personal information
Full name Alfredo Stéfano Di Stéfano Laulhé[1]
Date of birth (1926-07-04)4 July 1926
Place of birth Buenos Aires, Argentina
Date of death 7 July 2014(2014-07-07) (aged 88)
Place of death Madrid, Spain
Height 1.76 m (5 ft 9 12 in)
Playing position Forward
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1945–1949 River Plate 66 (49)
1945–1946Huracán (loan) 25 (10)
1949–1953 Millonarios 101 (90)
1953–1964 Real Madrid 282 (216)
1964–1966 Espanyol 47 (11)
Total 521 (376)
National team
1947 Argentina 6 (6)
1951–1952 Colombia 4 (0)
1957–1962 Spain 31 (23)
Teams managed
1967–1968 Elche
1969–1970 Boca Juniors
1970–1974 Valencia
1974 Sporting CP
1975–1976 Rayo Vallecano
1976–1977 Castellón
1979–1980 Valencia
1981–1982 River Plate
1982–1984 Real Madrid
1985 Boca Juniors
1986–1988 Valencia
1990–1991 Real Madrid
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Alfredo Stéfano Di Stéfano Laulhé[2] (Spanish pronunciation: [alˈfɾeðo ði esˈtefano]; 4 July 1926 – 7 July 2014) was an Argentinian professional footballer and coach. He is regarded as one of the best footballers of all time, and is best known for his achievements with Real Madrid, where he was instrumental in the club's domination of the European Cup and La Liga during the 1950s. Along with Francisco Gento and José María Zárraga, he was one of only three players to play a part in all five victories, scoring goals in each of the five finals. Di Stéfano played international football mostly for Spain after moving to Madrid, but he also played for Argentina and Colombia.

Di Stéfano, nicknamed "Saeta rubia" ("Blond Arrow"),[3][4][5] was a powerful, quick, skillful, and prolific forward, with great stamina, tactical versatility, creativity, and vision, who could also play almost anywhere on the pitch.[6][7][8][9] He is currently the sixth highest scorer in the history of Spain's top division, and Real Madrid's third highest league goalscorer of all time, with 216 goals in 282 league matches between 1953 and 1964. He is Madrid's leading goalscorer in the history of El Clásico, alongside Cristiano Ronaldo.[10][11][12]

In November 2003, to celebrate UEFA's Jubilee, he was selected as the Golden Player of Spain by the Royal Spanish Football Federation as their most outstanding player of the past 50 years.[13] In 2004, he was named by Pelé in the FIFA 100 list of the world's greatest living players (in September 2009, he said Di Stéfano was the best Argentinian player "ever").[14] He was voted fourth, behind Pelé, Diego Maradona, and Johan Cruyff, in a vote organized by France Football magazine which consulted their former Ballon d'Or winners to elect the Football Player of the Century.[15]

In 2008 Di Stefano was honoured by both UEFA and Real Madrid with a special Presidents award issued by FIFA at a ceremony in Madrid, where a statue was also unveiled. Then UEFA President Michel Platini called Di Stefano "a great amongst the greats" while contemporaries Eusébio and Just Fontaine suggested that he was "the most complete footballer in the history of the game".[16]

Early life

Born in Barracas, a neighborhood of Buenos Aires, Di Stéfano was the son of Alfredo Di Stéfano, a first-generation Italian Argentine (his father Michele emigrated to Argentina from Nicolosi in the 19th century), and Eulalia Laulhé Gilmont, an Argentine woman of French and Irish descent with her relatives being from Swinford, County Mayo.[17][18][19]

He began his career at Argentina's River Plate aged 17, in 1943. For the 1946 season he was loaned to Club Atlético Huracán, but he returned to River in 1947. Due to a footballers' strike in Argentina in 1949, Di Stéfano went to play for Millonarios of Bogotá in the Colombian league.[20] He won six league titles during the first 12 years of his career in Argentina and Colombia.[21][22]

Club career

Di Stéfano was best known for his time at Real Madrid where he was an integral part of one of the most successful teams of all time. He scored 216 league goals in 262 games for Real (then a club record, since surpassed by Raúl and Cristiano Ronaldo), striking up a fearsome partnership with Ferenc Puskás. Di Stéfano's 49 goals in 58 matches was for decades the all-time highest tally in the European Cup. It has since been surpassed by six players, initially Real Madrid's Raúl in 2005 and most recently by Cristiano Ronaldo in 2014 and Karim Benzema in 2016.

Di Stéfano scored in five consecutive European Cup finals for Real Madrid between 1956 and 1960, including a hat-trick in the last. Perhaps the highlight of his time with the club was their 7–3 victory over Eintracht Frankfurt in the 1960 European Cup Final at Hampden Park, a game many consider to be the finest exhibition of club football ever witnessed in Europe.[20]

He was awarded the Ballon d'Or for the European Footballer of the Year in 1957 and 1959.[21] He moved to Espanyol in 1964 and played there until retiring at the age of 40.[22]

International career

Di Stéfano played with two different national teams during his career: he played six times with the Argentine national team, and 31 times with the Spanish national team, scoring 23 goals. However, he never played in the World Cup.[5] The player also played four times with Colombia XI, a team formed by some of the best players of the Dimayor league tournament, sometimes mistaken as Colombia international matches (reason of why they are not recognized by FIFA).[23][24][25]

Di Stéfano scored 6 goals in 6 games as Argentina won the 1947 South American Championship, his only games for the country.[26] The first World Cup in which he would have been able to participate was the 1950 tournament. As Argentina refused to participate, Di Stéfano (aged 24) missed his first chance at playing in the World Cup. For the 1954 World Cup, Argentina again did not enter.[27]

Di Stéfano acquired Spanish citizenship in 1956 and made his debut for them on 30 January 1957 in a friendly in Madrid, scoring a hat-trick in a 5–1 win.[28] He played four World Cup qualifying matches in 1957, but the team failed to qualify for the 1958 World Cup. In 1961, Di Stéfano (36) who had already won 5 European Cups, helped Spain qualify for the World Cup of 1962. A muscular injury just before the competition prevented him from playing in the finals.[29] He retired from international football afterwards.

Kidnapping in Caracas

On the night of 24 August 1963, the Venezuelan revolutionary group Armed Forces of National Liberation (FALN), kidnapped Alfredo Di Stéfano at gunpoint from the Potomac Hotel in Caracas while his team, Real Madrid, were on a pre-season tour of South America.[30] The kidnapping was codenamed "Julián Grimau", after the Spanish communist Julián Grimau García, executed by firing squad in Spain in April 1963 during Francisco Franco's dictatorship.[30] Di Stefano was released unharmed two days later close to the Spanish embassy without a ransom being paid, and Di Stefano stressed that his kidnappers had not mistreated him.[30] Di Stefano played in a match against São Paulo FC the day after he was released and received a standing ovation.[20][30]

A Spanish movie entitled Real, La Película (Real, The Movie), which recounted these events, was released on 25 August 2005. In a bizarre publicity stunt at the premiere, kidnapper Paul del Rio, now a famous artist, and Di Stefano were brought together for the first time since the abduction, 42 years before.[30]

Managerial career

After retirement, he moved into coaching. He guided the Argentine club Boca Juniors to league title,[21] and won La Liga and the Copa del Rey with Valencia as well as the European Cup Winners' Cup with the side in 1980. He also managed Sporting in the 1974/75 season and Real Madrid between 1982 and 1984. The 1982–83 was catastrophic for Real, they finished third in La Liga and were defeated finalists in the Supercopa de España, Copa de la Liga and Copa del Rey.[21] Madrid were also beaten by Aberdeen, managed by Alex Ferguson, in the European Cup Winners' Cup final.[21]

After retirement

Di Stéfano resided in Spain until his death in 2014. On 5 November 2000 he was named Honorary President of Real Madrid.[21]

On 24 December 2005, 79-year-old Di Stéfano suffered a heart attack.[31]

On 9 May 2006, the Alfredo di Stéfano Stadium was inaugurated at the City of Real Madrid, where Real Madrid usually train. Its inaugural match was between Real Madrid and Stade de Reims, a rematch of the European Cup final won by Real Madrid in 1956. Real Madrid won 6–1 with goals from Sergio Ramos, Antonio Cassano (2), Roberto Soldado (2), and José Manuel Jurado.[32]


Following another heart attack on 5 July 2014, the 88-year-old Di Stéfano was moved to intensive care in the Gregorio Marañón hospital in Madrid,[33] where he died on 7 July 2014.[34][35][36]

On 8 July, his coffin was placed on public display at the Bernabéu Stadium. Real Madrid president Florentino Pérez and captain Iker Casillas were amongst those in attendance.[37] Following his death Di Stéfano received tributes from many famous football personalities including Alex Ferguson, Johan Cruyff, Pelé, Cristiano Ronaldo, Diego Maradona and Bobby Charlton.[38] During the 2014 FIFA World Cup semi-final between Argentina and the Netherlands on 9 July, Di Stéfano was honoured with one minute of silence, while the Argentine team also wore black ribbons in a matter of respect.[39]

The Club Atlético River Plate from Argentina and Millonarios Fútbol Club from Colombia organized a friendly match in homage of their former player. The match was played on 16 July 2014, at the Millonarios' Estadio El Campín.[40]

Personal life

Di Stéfano married Sara Freites in 1950, they had six children: Alfredo, Ignacio, Sofia, Silvana, Helena and Nanette; she died in December 2012. At the time of his death he was dating his Costa Rican girlfriend Gina González,[41] his former secretary, 50 years his junior.

Career statistics


Club Season League Cup Continental Total
River Plate 1945 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0
Huracán (loan) 1946 25 10 2 0 0 0 27 10
Total 251020002710
River Plate 1947 30 27 0 0 2 1 32 28
1948 23 13 1 1 6 4 30 18
1949 12 9 0 0 0 0 12 9
Total 664911857555
Millonarios 1949 14 16 0 0 0 0 14 16
1950 29 23 2 1 0 0 31 24
1951 34 32 4? 4? 0 0 38? 36?
1952 24 19 4? 5? 0 0 28? 24?
Total 10190101000111100
Real Madrid 1953–54 28 27 0 0 0 0 28 27
1954–55 30 25 0 0 2 0 32 25
1955–56 30 24 0 0 7 5 37 29
1956–57 30 31 3 3 10 9 43 43
1957–58 30 19 7 7 7 10 44 36
1958–59 28 23 8 5 7 6 43 34
1959–60 23 12 5 3 6 8 34 23
1960–61 23 21 9 8 4 1 36 30
1961–62 23 11 8 4 10 7 41 22
1962–63 13 12 9 9 2 1 24 22
1963–64 24 11 1 1 9 5 34 17
Total 28221650406452396308
Espanyol 1964–65 24 7 3 2 0 0 27 9
1965–66 23 4 4 1 6 0 33 5
Total 471173606014
Career totals 52137670547857669487



International goals

For Argentina

Scores and results list Argentina's goal tally first.[42]
1.4 December 1947Estadio George Capwell, Guayaquil, Ecuador Bolivia6–07–01947 South American Championship
2.11 December 1947Estadio George Capwell, Guayaquil, Ecuador Peru2–13–21947 South American Championship
3.16 December 1947Estadio George Capwell, Guayaquil, Ecuador Chile1–01–11947 South American Championship
4.18 December 1947Estadio George Capwell, Guayaquil, Ecuador Colombia2–06–01947 South American Championship
5.18 December 1947Estadio George Capwell, Guayaquil, Ecuador Colombia5–06–01947 South American Championship
6.18 December 1947Estadio George Capwell, Guayaquil, Ecuador Colombia6–06–01947 South American Championship

For Spain

Scores and results list Spain's goal tally first.[42]
1.30 January 1957Santiago Bernabéu, Madrid, Spain Netherlands2–05–1Friendly
2.30 January 1957Santiago Bernabéu, Madrid, Spain Netherlands4–05–1Friendly
3.30 January 1957Santiago Bernabéu, Madrid, Spain Netherlands5–15–1Friendly
4.31 March 1957King Baudouin Stadium, Brussels, Belgium Belgium1–05–0Friendly
5.31 March 1957King Baudouin Stadium, Brussels, Belgium Belgium4–05–0Friendly
6.24 November 1957Stade olympique de la Pontaise, Lausanne, Switzerland  Switzerland2–04–11958 FIFA World Cup qualification
7.24 November 1957Stade olympique de la Pontaise, Lausanne, Switzerland  Switzerland3–04–11958 FIFA World Cup qualification
8.13 April 1958Santiago Bernabéu, Madrid, Spain Portugal1–01–0Friendly
9.28 February 1959Stadio Olimpico, Rome, Italy Italy1–01–1Friendly
10.28 June 1959Stadion Śląski, Chorzów, Poland Poland2–14–21960 European Nations' Cup qualifying
11.28 June 1959Stadion Śląski, Chorzów, Poland Poland4–14–21960 European Nations' Cup qualifying
12.14 October 1959Santiago Bernabéu, Madrid, Spain Poland1–03–01960 European Nations' Cup qualifying
13.22 November 1959Mestalla, Valencia, Spain Austria1–06–3Friendly
14.22 November 1959Mestalla, Valencia, Spain Austria5–26–3Friendly
15.13 March 1960Camp Nou, Barcelona, Spain Italy2–13–1Friendly
16.10 July 1960Estadio Nacional, Lima, Peru Peru1–03–1Friendly
17.14 July 1960Estadio Nacional, Santiago, Chile Chile1–04–0Friendly
18.14 July 1960Estadio Nacional, Santiago, Chile Chile2–04–0Friendly
19.17 July 1960Estadio Nacional, Santiago, Chile Chile1–04–1Friendly
20.17 July 1960Estadio Nacional, Santiago, Chile Chile2–04–1Friendly
21.19 April 1961Ninian Park, Cardiff, Wales Wales2–12–11962 FIFA World Cup qualification
22.11 June 1961Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán, Sevilla, Spain Argentina2–02–0Friendly
23.23 November 1961Santiago Bernabéu, Madrid, Spain Morocco2–13–21962 FIFA World Cup qualification



Boca Juniors

River Plate

  • Torneo Nacional: 1981


Real Madrid


  • Scored in most European Cup finals: 5.[49]
  • Scored in most consecutive European Cup finals: 5.
  • Most goals scored in European Cup finals: 7 (shared with Ferenc Puskás)
  • Only player to be awarded the Super Ballon d'Or[50]


  • (Autobiography) Di Stéfano, Alfredo (2000). Gracias, Vieja: Las Memorias del Mayor Mito del Futbol. Madrid: Aguilar. ISBN 84-03-09200-8. 
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