Paddy’s Hall of Fame: Alfredo Di Stefano
If anyone knows a thing or two about great footballers, it is our very own Paddy Crerand.
The former Red will be putting his experience to good use this season as, during the year, Paddy will be providing his personal selection of some of the greatest-ever players in United Review - our official matchday programme.
He’s kicked it all off with the man he considers to be the best of the lot: Alfredo Di Stefano.
But, before reading Paddy’s thoughts on the the legendary Real Madrid forward, here is a quick summary of Di Stefano’s career…
Di Stefano: Career in pictures Gallery
Some of the highlights from 'the Blond Arrow's' legendary career.
Born in Buenos Ares in 1926, Di Stefano grew up in the Argentinian capital and began his career with River Plate aged just 17.
After eight years playing in South America, the attacker moved to Real Madrid in 1953, where he went on to forge his status as one of the planet’s all-time greatest.
In his time with Los Blancos, Di Stefano helped the Spanish side win the first five European Cups between 1956-1960 - netting in five consecutive finals, including a hat-trick in the 1960 edition.
Nicknamed the ‘Blond Arrow’, he quickly established an unstoppable partnership with Real team-mate Ferenc Puskas, as they dominated Spanish football during the 1950s and early 1960s.
In 11 seasons at the Bernabeu, he won 18 trophies, claimed the Ballon d’Or twice (1957 and 1959) and his 308 goals for Real has been bettered only by Raul and Cristiano Ronaldo in recent times.
He left the club in 1964 and, after two years with Espanyol, retired from playing, before beginning his long, and successful, career as a manager.
Di Stefano passed away in 2014, aged 88, with Sir Alex Ferguson and Sir Bobby Charlton among the many to pay their respects to one of the game’s greatest.
“Di Stefano was the best player I’ve ever seen, past or present. Better than Messi, better than Pele, better than even George Best. In fact, if George was here now, God bless him, he’d be agreeing with me. Di Stefano had the most incredible football brain and controlled every match. I played against him once for Celtic in a friendly, towards the end of his career, and he was still absolutely terrific. Unfortunately, I was away with Celtic in Ireland when he scored a hat-trick against Eintracht Frankfurt in the famous 1960 European Cup final at Hampden Park in Glasgow, but we watched it on the TV and were amazed at what we saw. He was the best I’d seen back then, and nothing in all the years has changed my mind.”
To see Paddy’s latest thoughts on all things United make sure to watch the weekly Paddy Crerand Show on MUTV every Monday. You can also read his full column in United Review, which is still available to buy.
Reading this in our app? If not, you might miss some exclusive features not found on ManUtd.com. Download the Official App here.