The entire playing field fit inside his shoes. From his feet it sprouted and grew. Alfredo Di Stefano ran and re-ran the field from net to net. He would change flanks and rhythm with the ball, from a lazy trot to an unstoppable cyclone; without the ball he’d evade his marker to gain open space, seeking air whenever a play would get choked off.
He never stood still. Holding his head high, he could see the entire playing field and cross it at a gallop to pry open the defense and launch the attack. He was there at the beginning, the during and the end of every scoring play, and he scored goals of all colors:
Watch out, watch out,
here comes the arrow
faster than all get out.
The crowd would carry him off on their shoulders.
Di Stefano was the engine behind three teams that amazed the world in the forties: River Plate, where he took Pedernera’s place; Millonarios from Bogota, where he sparkled alongside Pedernera; and Real Madrid, where he was Spain’s leading scorer for five years in a row. In 1991, years after he retired, the magazine France Football bestowed on this Buenos Aires boy the title of “best European player of all time.”