MADRID - Spain mourned Real Madrid legend Alfredo
di Stefano on Tuesday, paying homage to one of the world's greatest
footballers who inspired millions of fans during the isolation of the
As Di Stefano's body lay in state at Real Madrid's
Santiago Bernabeu Tuesday, a day after the 88-year-old died in hospital
following a heart attack, the press lavished praise on the man they
called a "genius", "legend" and "complete player"
Di Stefano had
gone into a coma after suffering a heart attack on Saturday at a
restaurant near Real's Santiago Bernabeu stadium.
A hero of the
all-conquering Real sides of the 1950s and 1960s, he died on Monday at
5:15 pm (1515 GMT) at the Gregorio Maranon hospital, Real Madrid said in
"He has left us, but his legend will live forever,"
Real Madrid chairman Florentino Perez told a news conference on Monday
On Tuesday, the leading sports daily, Marca, left its
cover almost entirely white, except for a small black-and-white
photograph showing the back of a departing Di Stefano wearing his number
9 shirt, his hand waving high in the air as if saying farewell, and his
dates of birth and death below.
The Madrid-based paper, which
included a 40-page supplement on the striker known as the "Blonde
Arrow", urged Real Madrid to withdraw the number 9 shirt in Di Stefano's
- Football genius -
director of rival sports daily AS, Alfredo Relano, said Di Stefano's
exploits on foreign football fields gave Spain pride in the 1950s,
during the dictatorship of General Francisco Franco.
"In the poor,
isolated, aged and introverted Spain of the second half of the 1950s,
there was something to hang on to: Real Madrid, the European Cup, those
remote games in Belgrade, Vienna, Brussels, Glasgow," Relano said.
"The old, strong and prestigious Europe only bowed to us if Real Madrid was there. And Di Stefano."
daily El Pais declared on its front-page: "The genius of football dies"
above a black-and-white picture of Di Stefano, leaping into the air
with his arms raised in celebration after scoring in the semifinals of
the European Cup of 1958.
"Alfredo Di Stefano was a timeless player for all times, for eternity,' the paper said.
"The man who revolutionised football," cried the front page headline of rival daily El Mundo.
a special supplement, the paper said: "Farewell to the genius who
leaves an enormous hole. Because everyone was convinced he would never
leave. That could be true. He may never leave us entirely."