REAL MADRID LEGEND Alfredo Di Stéfano has died.
Rescuers battled for nearly 20 minutes to revive the 88-year-old, one of the greatest footballers in history, after his heart and breathing stopped on Saturday while he was eating with his family near Real’s Santiago Bernabeu stadium.
The Argentina-born forward was taken in a serious condition to the Gregorio Maranon hospital which later said he was in a coma, had been sedated and was breathing with the help of a machine.
In a medical report issued on Sunday, the hospital said he remained in its coronary unit in “a serious but stable condition”. However, he passed away earlier today.
“Alfredo Di Stefano has passed away this Monday,” said the Spanish Football Federation in a statement.
Di Stéfano had been hospitalised seven times for similar episodes, and underwent emergency quadruple heart by-pass surgery after suffering a major heart attack in 2005.
He is one of Real Madrid’s most celebrated players, having represented the club for 11 seasons between 1953 and 1964, winning five European Cups. He now holds the title of honorary club president.
Di Stéfano was born in Buenos Aires and began his professional career with hometown club River Plate in 1945 before leaving for Colombian outfit Millonarios four years later after the Argentine league ground to a halt following a pay strike.
Di Stéfano won the Colombian title in his first season before adding the 1951 and 1952 titles to his list of honours but it was his individual displays that attracted the attention of a host of big-name European suitors.
It was ultimately Real Madrid who won the race for Di Stefano’s signature after a long, complicated transfer wrangle with bitter rivals Barcelona.
Di Stéfano immediately flourished in the Spanish capital as he helped Real Madrid end a 21-year wait for the league title in his first season before collecting a further seven league crowns during his time at the club.
However, it was on the European stage that Di Stéfano truly cemented his status as one of the game’s greats, helping Real win the first five editions of the European Cup between 1956 and 1960, a record that stands to this day.