Reuters Soccer Blog
World Soccer views and news
Looking back 60 years at grainy footage of his playing days, it is hard for us to get a clear sense of how good a player Alfredo Di Stefano, who turned 85 on Monday, really was.
Those who were privileged to see the Real Madrid great performing in the flesh say he was one of the most complete footballers to have graced the game.
An accomplished defender, a midfield workhorse, a playmaker and a prolific striker rolled into one, he could be seen covering back in defence, charging forward through midfield, laying on goals for the forwards and smashing shots into the net all in the same game.
Known as “La Saeta Rubia” (the blond arrow), Buenos Aires-born Di Stefano remains in robust health, regularly appears at club events in his capacity as honorary president and has a lively newspaper column in Marca sports daily.
For all the progress made by Major League Soccer since it began in 1996, there is not one team in the league that can match the old New York Cosmos for name recognition – not globally and not in the United States.
But when the new owners of the Cosmos name announced in August that they planned to bring the team back to life and take them into MLS, there was a good deal of scepticism in the American soccer community. Now they have named former Manchester United great Eric Cantona as director of soccer.
One of the most appealing aspects of football is that, unlike with most sports, you can find the passion of the game in almost every corner of the world, often hidden away in the most unlikely places.
What separates football from, say Formula One or tennis, is that even at the lower levels of the game you can still get the buzz of being a fan even without the top stars or the fully-serviced facilities.