YESTERDAY the beautiful game lost one of its favourite sons when former Real Madrid legend Alfredo Di Stefano passed away at the age of 88.
The five time European Cup winner who collected 23 trophies and two Ballon D’ors over a 21-year career is regularly cited to be among the top five players to have ever lived.
To help celebrate the life of such a distinguished individual, we’ve put together the best quotes uttered by and said about the legendary goalscorer.
What football said
“Alfredo Di Stéfano was the greatest footballer of all time - far better even than Pelé. He was, simultaneously, the anchor in defence, the playmaker in midfield, and the most dangerous marksman in attack.” - Helenio Herrera, European Cup winning manager with Inter Milan
“I don’t know if I had been a better player than Pelé, but I can say without any doubt that Di Stéfano was better than Pelé. I am proud when one speaks of Di Stéfano. Pelé would have flopped had he played in Europe, whereas Alfredo has played very well throughout the world. I can say that Maradona could be worse than Pelé. But I emphasize Di Stéfano was better”. - Diego Maradona
“Who is this man? He takes the ball from the goalkeeper; he tells the full-backs what to do; wherever he is on the field he is in position to take the ball; you can see his influence on everything that is happening... I had never seen such a complete footballer. It was as though he had set up his own command centre at the heart of the game. He was as strong as he was subtle. The combination of qualities was mesmerising.” - Bobby Charlton
What the writers said
“To his strength, stamina and electric change of pace, Di Stéfano allied superb ball control on which he put a premium. He score goals in superabundance yet made so many for others. If there was a King in the European Cup, it was surely Alfredo Di Stéfano.” - Brian Glanville, world renowned English football writer.
“No other player so effectively combined individual expertise with an all-embracing ability to organize a team to play to his command. He was “total soccer” personified before the term had been invented. Di Stéfano remains to many of us the Greatest Footballer of All Time.” - Keir Radnedge, former editor of World Soccer magazine.
What he said
“A soccer game without goals is like an afternoon without sunshine.”
“We are all footballers, and as such should be able to perform competently in all 11 positions.”
“The ball is made of leather, leather comes from a cow, a cow eats grass, so you have to take the ball to grass.”
“I retired at age 40 because my daughters looked at me one day and said: ‘Dad, being bald and wearing shorts doesn’t look good together’.”
“The ball gave me prestige, gave me fame, gave me riches. Thank you, my old friend.”
“Aberdeen have what money can’t buy: a soul” – said in the aftermath of their 1983 European Cup Winners Cup Final loss to Alex Ferguson’s side. Di Stefano was manager of Real Madrid.