The world of football united in mourning on Monday evening following the death of former Real Madrid CF, Argentina and Spain forward Alfredo Di Stéfano at the age of 88.
Madrid paid respects to the "greatest player who ever lived", while UEFA President Michel Platini spoke of a man who "embodied all that is magical about football". Condolences, tributes and remembrances have been given across the globe, from his native Argentina to his adopted Spain. Here is a flavour of the reaction.
Florentino Pérez, Real Madrid president
Alfredo Di Stéfano is Real Madrid. His time at the club will live on for eternity. The best player in this club's history, the best of all time, and has left us. We feel enormous loss, which weighs heavily. The player who put on that white jersey here in 1953 may be gone, but his legend will last forever.
Argentinian Football Association
The death of Alfredo Di Stéfano has sent the world of football into mourning. La Saeta Rubia – or Blond Arrow – was the indisputable reason the world game changed both in terms of tactics and strategy as he was the first total footballer. By that, it is meant he was the first to participate in both boxes.
He could come back to defend, heading clear from a corner, while in the same move – displaying pace that was unusual for the time – could arrive into the opposition area to head at goal. He was the inspiration behind the Netherlands' Total Football of the 1970s after his Real Madrid team had been practicing it for more than a decade.
Vicente del Bosque, Spain coach
[Di Stéfano] was my coach [at Real Madrid] during the closing stages of my playing career. I knew him well, so obviously I really feel his loss. I send a warm embrace to his family and those close to him. I extend the same condolences to everyone connected with Real Madrid who today are living a very sad day.
Sir Alex Ferguson, former Manchester United manager
He had fantastic balance and poise – if you look at one of the goals he scored against Eintracht Frankfurt [in the 1960 final] it was completely what we were talking about – the balance he had. Unbelievable, he was. I was in the schoolboy enclosure. The amazing thing about that was that Eintracht Frankfurt beat Rangers in the semi-finals, 6-3 and 6-1. They came to Hampden Park as gods. They were then annihilated in the final.
He was always the focus of Real Madrid wherever they went. He had a fantastic life and I'm proud to have been associated with him in a small way.
Sir Bobby Charlton, former England and Manchester United midfielder
I think Alfredo Di Stéfano was one of the best players I ever came across and an extremely intelligent footballer. He was somebody I really respected, having watched him from the stands at the Bernabéu and then played against him. I have many fond memories of my time with Alfredo and feel privileged to be able to call him a good friend. The footballing world has lost a great player and a great man.
Don Alfredo leaves us, but his memory will last forever in our hearts. Legends never die. Thanks for everything Maestro. #EternoAlfredo
— Cristiano Ronaldo (@Cristiano) July 7, 2014
Joan Josep Bertomeu, former Espanyol goalkeeper
I feel privileged and lucky to have played alongside him and to have maintained our friendship up until the time of his death. He really stood out as a player; he was one of the best in the world. His commitment and competitive nature surprised me; he wanted to win at whatever sport or game we played. He was always the first to arrive at training.
Mario Corso, former FC Internazionale Milano midfielder
I remember that we were all staring at him ahead of the [1964 European Cup] final in Vienna and Luis Suárez told Sandro Mazzola: "We are going in to play the game, do you want to stay here and continue watching Alfredo or you are coming with us?" I'm extremely sad about his departure, he was certainly among the best three players in the history of football.
AS, Spanish newspaper
He was probably the most decisive player in Real Madrid's 111-year history. The club had only won two Liga titles until Di Stéfano's arrival in 1953. In the 11 years that followed, Madrid won eight championships, five European Cups, an Intercontinental Cup, a Spanish Cup and two Copas Latinas. He helped to make Santiago Bernabéu's immense dreams a reality.
Marca, Spanish newspaper
The most important game in Real Madrid's history was undoubtedly the friendly played against Millionarios. A fast, highly skilful Alfredo Di Stéfano took to the pitch [for the Colombian team] and it was love at first sight for Madrid's former president Santiago Bernabéu. From then on, Bernabéu didn't cease in his efforts to bring the Argentinian to the Spanish capital. His efforts were more than worth it.
Süddeutsche Zeitung, German newspaper
Di Stéfano was a pioneer of the versatile game and the first icon of world football. He was such a big deal he managed to cope without a World Cup. He wasn't a classic striker but rather the first 'todocampista' because he ruled the entire pitch. He also tracked back, created goals and scored them up front.
I have always had a good friendship over the years with Alfredo Di Stefano. We have lost a good man and a great footballer. RIP, my friend
— Johan Cruyff (@JohanCruyff) July 7, 2014
Championat.com, Russian sports website
In May we witnessed Real Madrid's long-awaited tenth European Cup; Di Stéfano contributed to half of them. He was a true magician and geniuses don't die even if they had graced the game before the emergence of high-resolution cameras.
Corriere della Sera, Italian newspaper
It is very likely that he was the best footballer in the world. Di Stéfano played for 20 years and had a unique quality. He was a striker yet he popped up everywhere. He was a dedicated professional who enjoyed playing the game until he was almost 40. He had Diego Maradona's leadership, Valentino Mazzola's style and the charm and goalscoring instincts of Pelé.
He was a trailblazer, and most of all, he was a legend of the game. God rest his soul.
— Pelé (@Pele) July 7, 2014
Scottish Daily Mail, Scottish newspaper
Di Stéfano's unique mastery of the game in all its facets may best be described as him being not only the virtuoso, but also the composer and conductor of every football orchestra in which he played. To watch him was to be enchanted by the creative magic he wove in midfield, to marvel at his reading of the game, to be astonished by his genius for scoring goals.
©UEFA.com 1998-2014. All rights reserved.