Alfredo Di Stéfano, who has died aged 88, was the driving force and symbol of the great Real Madrid CF sides in the early years of the European Champion Clubs' Cup.
The Argentina-born striker played and scored in each of Madrid's victories in the first five finals between 1956 and 1960, including the crowning glory against Eintracht Frankfurt when he and another adopted Spaniard, Ferenc Puskás, shared seven goals between them in a 7-3 win. In 2006, he looked back on those first five finals with UEFA.com.
Real Madrid CF 4-3 Stade de Reims Champagne
13 June 1956, Parc des Princes, Paris
We were playing in our first European Cup. Nobody realised it was the start of something. The game brought with it huge responsibility, as we were to discover much later. It was a magnificent showpiece – the public left very happy and us even more so. To be able to win 4-3 against Reims in Paris! It was a great time for the Spanish immigrants [in Paris] and for the people who had very little here in Madrid.
There was a sense of calm in the dressing room and there wasn't that much stress or worry. After we won the game that was it. It's different nowadays. Now it seems like if you don't win people kill you. There's so much more responsibility. Although it's just a sport, for the people and specifically the hardcore Madrid fans, this is a tournament filled with honour.
Real Madrid CF 2-0 AC Fiorentina
30 May 1957, Santiago Bernabéu, Madrid
It was in the height of summer in Madrid and we played under a very strong sun which really burnt us. Fiorentina were great champions with a fantastic team who had a very strong defensive system, like most of the Italian teams. We stayed true but we had a really hard time trying to break down that defence.
Although I received the awards [European Footballer of the Year in 1957 and 1959], I shared them with all of my team-mates. I would never say that awards are something I wished for. It's a game of football and football is eleven against eleven. It's a team effort.
Real Madrid CF 3-2 AC Milan (aet)
29 May 1958, Heysel Stadium, Brussels
The toughest final was the third, when we stole it from Milan. They were our big rivals because of the players they had like Maldini, Liedholm, Schiaffino ... phenomenal players, Italian and foreign players, in their team. We were never in front until we actually won it, which didn't happen until extra time, when Gento got the goal that clinched the title.
It was really hard going, the toughest test of all, but there was never a doubt we would lose. They had a good team and we knew they were good on the counter-attack as well. When you look at the European Cup finals there are always two big teams involved who are powerful and strong.
Real Madrid CF 2-0 Stade de Reims Champagne
3 June 1959, Necker Stadion, Stuttgart
I was a forward and one of the obligations of a forward is to score goals. For me my best goal was the one I scored in Stuttgart, in the fourth final in Germany. The one we won 2-0. The second goal was mine. It was probably the most crucial goal.
Reims were a big name; they had a great team and some great players. That French team had a great decade. This time we had a problem because Kopa got injured and in those days you couldn't make substitutions. That made it a complicated and difficult game, but we won 2-0 and in the end we didn't have to work too hard.
Real Madrid CF 7-3 Eintracht Frankfurt
18 May, Hampden Park, Glasgow
This one was easier. It was more complicated but at the same time it was easier. They made it 1-0 and soon after that they had another attack that our keeper saved well. That was the signal for us to equalise and once we took the lead we continued to push on because we had a very attacking team. That final caused a big sensation because of the result. Ten goals in a final, what an incredible spectacle.
But I still have to say the hardest final for us and by far the best was the Brussels final against Milan. It was unbelievable. We weren't a team full of difficult people, there were no individuals then. Individuals only reinforce the group. Puskás helped to reinforce the team. It was a very hard-working team, very happy. We came up against teams that didn't know what to expect. We would run all day and wouldn't stop for anyone.
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