In the history of La Liga, Real Madrid rules the roost with 33 League titles to their name, while also conquering Europe a record 13 times. In the 21st century, Real Madrid’s forward line was manned by the likes of Raul and Cristiano Ronaldo, both of whom have gone on to register themselves as the second-highest and highest goalscorers respectively for Los Blancos.

However, it took almost 50 years for Raul to break the record set by one of their yesteryear legends in the form of Alfredo Di Stefano, born on this day 94 years ago.

Di Stefano arrived at Real Madrid as a 27-year-old striker in 1953 and scored a hat-trick in his debut at El Clásico against Barcelona. By the end of the season, he was a star; he had 27 goals in 28 appearances, winning the league’s top-scorer award. He also led Real Madrid to their first league title in 20 years.

By the time Di Stefano left the club 11 years later at the age of 38, he won eight Spanish Championship trophies, one Spanish Cup, two Latin Cups, and finished as the league’s top scorer on five different occasions. He scored a massive 418 goals in 510 games for Real Madrid and is still third on Real Madrid’s all-time top-scorers list.

While his exploits in the Spanish league are very commendable, one must also not discount the influence that the late forward had in the European competition. The competition was started in 1955, and Real Madrid was the most dominant force in the Champions Cup. With Di Stefano leading the line, Madrid won the competition between 1956 and 1960, for five straight years. They are the only team in Champions League history to achieve the feat, albeit during the Champions Cup era.

During his stint in Europe, Alfredo Di Stefano scored 49 goals in 59 matches in the Champions Cup. Moreover, in each of the Champions Cup finals he played in, he netted at least once. Di Stéfano scored in finals against Reims on two different occasions, while also beating Fiorentina, ​Milan and Eintracht Frankfurt. He was among the best players to have played in Europe during the second half of the 1950s and his strong performances were finally recognised in 1957 and 1959 when the Argentinean won the much-coveted Ballon d'Or award.

Although he was among the greatest talents to have donned a football jersey, what makes Di Stefano fall below the pecking order of the many football legends was his status on the international stage. Nicknamed the ‘Saeta Rubia’, or the ‘Blond Arrow’, Di Stefano was an Argentinean by birth but has represented Argentina, Colombia and Spain. However, he could never play in a single World Cup, thereby diminishing his quality in front of legends like Pele and Diego Maradona.

However, in spite of this, he was awarded the Super Ballon d'Or in 1989, beating the likes of Paolo Maldini and Michel Platini to the trophy. Di Stefano would have turned 94 today, but a fatal heart attack ended the life of the legend in 2014, aged 88.

Feature image courtesy: Twitter / @ChampionsLeague