Alfredo Di Stefano: Football’s First World Class Player
When the conversation about who is the GOAT of football, Maradona, Pele, CR7, and Messi come to mind in the debate; however, one name is sometimes excluded from this debate; Alfredo Di Stefano.
Alfredo Di Stefano was born on 1926 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Di Stefano’s football career started just like his father on River Plate. Di Stefano was the last player from the golden era of Argentine football.
The Impact of Alfredo Di Stefano
The impact of Alfredo Di Stefano on the ‘beautiful game’ is ignored by most modern-day fans, including those of Real Madrid. Di Stefano, on the pitch, was a complete player on all aspects of the game in a way we hadn’t seen before and after him. Di Stefano was the first to defend when the team needed it and would also help with elaborating the plays and the finish of it.
There’s a reason the Real Madrid squad of the 50s won five European championships (Champions League) in a row. Di Stefano is one of the few players in the game’s history that could’ve easily played in any position and been the best on the pitch.
No team has benefited more from Alfredo Di Stefano than Real Madrid and the long-term impact on the team. Before Di Stefano, Real Madrid was an average team that had some success like 18 regional championships (Madrid), 2 Spanish championships (LaLiga), 9 Spanish cups (Copa del Rey). Still, Alfredo Di Stefano, with the help of Santiago Bernabéu, changed the history of the club and made it the biggest club in Spain and later in the world.
On an international level, Di Stefano had a string of bad luck due to injuries and other circumstances that prevented him from competing in the world cup for both Argentina and later with Spain. Despite that bad luck, he was able to win the 1947 edition of Copa America that took place in Ecuador and with the statistic of playing six games and scoring six goals.
Legends like Pele, Maradona, Cryuff, Beckenbauer, Charlton, Eusebio, Platini, Ferguson, and more have praised Di Stefano, and even Pele and Maradona have acknowledged Di Stefano as the GOAT of football.
As a coach, the influence of Di Stefano had a significant impact, and it’s sometimes overlooked due to his career as a player. Di Stefano is one of the few coaches that could claim that they won Argentina’s Primera Division with both Boca Juniors and River Plate. He helped Valencia win their first Spanish championship after a 24-year-drought in the 70-71 season, and in the 79-80 season, Valencia and Di Stefano won the UEFA Cup Winners Cup.
On several occasions, Di Stefano was also the coach of Real Madrid. He only won the Spanish SuperCup, but he is also credited for transferring La Quinta Del Buitre (5 young players grown from Real Madrid’s Youth Academy) from Castilla (Reserve team) to Real Madrid. La Quinta del Buitre (Butragueño, Sanchis, Vasquez, Michel & Pardeza) would have a lot of success for Real Madrid and have some of the most beautiful football in Europe in the mid-80s and early 90s.
Di Stefano is (for now at least) the only player to win the Super Ballon D’Or, an achievement no other player can claim and solidifies Di Stefano’s career.
Di Stefano should be remembered as the first world-class player, and his influence on and off the pitch changed football’s history, and to this day, we see the legacy he left with Real Madrid and the world.