Thursday, July 4, 2013

4 July 1926 - The Blonde Arrow Is Loosed

On 4 July 1926, two-time Ballon d'Or winner and five-time La Liga top scorer Alfredo di Stéfano was born in Buenos Aires.

Nicknamed "the Blonde Arrow," di Stéfano's twenty-one year professional career saw him win league trophies and scoring titles in three different countries. He debuted with River Plate in 1945 and won the league in his first season, followed by a second in 1947 when he was also the Primera División's top scorer. In 1949, Millonarios lured him to Colombia, where he added another three league championships (1949, 1951, 1952) and two scoring titles (1951, 1952) to his list of accomplishments.

In 1953, he moved across the Atlantic to play for Real Madrid (he had intended to sign for Barcelona, but a stall in contract negotiations allowed Real Madrid to steal him away in a move that intensified the already heated rivalry between the two clubs). There, he reached his greatest heights, winning five consecutive European Cups along with eight La Liga titles between 1954 and 1964. By the time he left, he was the club's all-time top scorer, with 305 goals in 392 appearances in all competitions (he currently sits in second, behind Raúl, who has 323). He also won the Ballon d'Or in 1957 and 1959.

He played two seasons for Espanyol before retiring in 1966, then moved into management, including multiple spells in charge of Boca Juniors, Valencia, and Real Madrid before his full retirement in 1991.

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