Real Madrid on Monday July 7, 2014 says Alfredo Di Stefano has died at age 88. Di Stefano helped Madrid win five straight European Champions Cups, and was voted European player of the year in 1957 and '59. (AP Photo/Paul White, File)
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Frequently bracketed with Pele and Diego Maradona among the greatest exponents of the game, Alfredo Di Stefano, who died Monday, aged 88, was one of the most complete footballers of all time.Known as "La Saeta Rubia" (the blond arrow), Di Stefano's achievements as a player helped turn Real Madrid, the Spanish club he joined in 1953, into one of the world's leading sides.Twice European Footballer of the Year in 1957 and 1959, Di Stefano scored 418 goals in 510 official games for Real Madrid.Di Stefano signed for River Plate at the age of 15, making his debut for the first team two years later.Di Stefano transformed Real from a club that had only won two league titles in the previous 50 years, the last in 1936, into the dominant force in Spanish and European football.He eventually left Real after 11 seasons having fallen out with President Santiago Bernabeu and returned to Barcelona to play for Espanyol, retiring two seasons later at the age of 40, 22 years after making his debut for River Plate.Although largely known for his remarkable achievements as a player, Di Stefano also had a distinguished career as a coach.
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