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Di Stéfano's status lingers long for Spanish

Published: Tuesday 11 May 2004, 14.52CET
Published: Tuesday 11 May 2004, 14.52CET

Di Stéfano's status lingers long for Spanish


Alfredo Di Stéfano Laulhé
Date of birth: 4 July 1926
National teams: Argentina, Spain
Club(s): CA River Plate, CA Huracán, CD Los Millonarios, Real Madrid CF, RCD Espanyol

Di Stéfano lead Real Madrid CF to victory with at least one goal in each of the first five European Champion Clubs' Cup finals. His phenomenal stamina also enabled him to command the entire pitch. Born in Buenos Aires, Di Stéfano began with his hometown team, CA River Plate. After a season with CA Huracán, he returned to River Plate to win the league while also winning the Copa America with Argentina. He then moved to CD Los Millonarios in Colombia where he scored 89 goals in 102 matches during almost four seasons. Di Stéfano won three Colombian championships in the process before moving to Europe to join Madrid in 1952. Success remained close at hand as he won eight league championships and one Spanish cup alongside a hitherto unequalled record in European competition with Madrid. He also went on to play 31 times for Spain, scoring 23 goals in the process. Named 1957 and 1959 European Footballer of the Year.

José Antonio Camacho Alfaro
Date of birth: 8 June 1955
National team(s): Spain
Club(s): Real Madrid CF

Defence has never been Real Madrid CF's greatest strength but Camacho came as near as any of the club's modern defenders to putting that right. Originally a combative left-back Camacho rose quickly through the youth ranks in the mid-1970s and later served club and country in central defence and also at right-back. He was nearly lost to the game through a knee ligament injury in training which cost him a place at the 1978 FIFA World Cup as well as 18 months of his career. But he made a remarkable recovery to win a then-record 81 international caps, and later coached Spain at the 2002 World Cup finals.

José Emilio Santamaría Iglesias
Date of birth: 31 July 1929
National team(s): Uruguay and Spain
Club(s): Club Nacional Montevideo, Real Madrid CF

Santamaría was a triple European champion with Real Madrid CF and later coached hosts Spain at the 1982 FIFA World Cup. A ruthless centre-back, his finest years were spent at Madrid in the 1950s and early 1960s, closing down the defensive gaps left by attacking colleagues. With Uruguay, Santamaría was one of the stars of the 1954 World Cup finals in Switzerland. Madrid brought him back to Europe in 1957 and, having played 20 times in recognised internationals for Uruguay, he collected another 16 caps in the service of Spain including the 1962 World Cup finals in Chile. Won three Uruguayan championships, before collecting six Spanish leagues, one Spanish cup and four European Champion Clubs' Cups with Madrid. Also coached RCD Espanyol and FC Barcelona.

Francisco Gento López
Date of birth: 21 October 1933
National team(s): Spain
Club(s): Real Racing Club Santander, Real Madrid CF

Gento, nicknamed 'El Supersonico' for his speed, was a significant part of the entertainment in Real Madrid CF's great team of the 1950s and 1960s. He began with Real Racing Club Santander, moving in 1953 to Madrid where he built an intuitive left-wing partnership with inside-forward José Hector Rial. Gento is the only man to have won six European Champion Clubs’ Cup medals. He was also runner-up in the competition in 1962 and 1964 and in the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup in 1971. He won the Spanish championship 12 times with Madrid, and played 43 times for Spain, scoring five goals.

Andoni Zubizarreta Urreta
Date of birth: 23 October 1961
National team(s): Spain
Club(s): Athletic Club Bilbao, FC Barcelona, Valencia CF

Zubizarreta made his league debut with Athletic Club Bilbao in 1981 and his international debut against Finland four years later. Successive coaches made Zubizarreta their first-choice goalkeeper in the 1986, 1990, 1994 and 1998 FIFA World Cups, and the UEFA European Championships in 1988 and 1996. In 1996 Zubizarreta cost FC Barcelona what was then a world record fee for a goalkeeper, €1.7m. He won two league titles and one cup at Bilbao, and went on to enjoy even greater success with Barcelona, adding four leagues and two cups to victories in the European Champion Clubs' Cup, European Cup Winners' Cup and UEFA Super Cup.

Fernando Ruiz Hierro
Date of birth: 23 March 1968
National team(s): Spain
Club(s): Málaga CF, Real Valladolid, Real Madrid CF

Hierro became a key figure at Real Madrid CF after joining in 1989 from Real Valladolid. As captain and defensive mainstay, Hierro's greatest match for Madrid was probably the 1998 UEFA Champions League Final when his sure-footed tackling inspired victory against Juventus FC. He was a Champions League winner twice more, in 2000 and 2002, before being released at the end of the 2002/03 season. Hierro's eye for goal from midfield and defence meant that, briefly, he was Spain's top international goalscorer with 29 goals in 89 appearances.

Last updated: 23/05/04 13.35CET

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