Forgotten Heroes and Icons of Modern Football
Alfredo Stéfano Di Stéfano Laulhe (*4 July 1926 in Buenos Aires; † July 7, 2014, in Madrid) was the formative head of the Real Madrid team that dominated Europe in the late 1950s and early 1960s and founded the “Real myth”. Since 2000, di Stefano has been Honorary President of Real Madrid.
The striker has been named Europe’s Footballer of the Year twice (1957 and 1959) and ranked 4th in FIFA’s “Player of the Century” poll.
Di Stéfano’s most successful period was during the 1950s and early 1960s. As head of the legendary “White Ballet”, di Stefano won the European Cup of National Champions 5 times in a row with Real. He won 14 national championships and became top scorer 10 times in various leagues and competitions. Di Stéfano was also successful as a coach in Argentina and Spain and led FC Valencia to the Spanish Championship and a European Cup victory. As coach of Real Madrid, the club legend was only able to take second places next to the Supercopa de España in 2 terms.
Di Stéfano died on July 7, 2014, at the age of 88 following a heart attack in a hospital in Madrid. At the 2014 FIFA World Cup, a minute’s silence was paid in memory of him before the kick-off of the semi-final match between Argentina and the Netherlands, and Argentina played with a mourning pile.
Zico is actually called Arthur Antunes Coimbra and was born on March 3, 1953, in Rio de Janeiro.
He was called the “white Pelé” during his active career and was one of Brazil’s most popular players in the 1970s and 1980s. Zico scored 66 goals in 88 international matches. He played for Flamengo in Rio de Janeiro from 1971 to 1983 and 1985 to 1989.
He was also under contract to Udinese Calcio in Italy. Like Pelé, he was number 10 in both the club and the national team, specializing in free kicks from 16 to 30 meters.
He is still considered to be one of the best free-kickers ever. Pelé put him on FIFA 100, a list of the best living footballers. The Seleção – generation led by Zico and Socrates, have had little international success, but are still considered one of the country’s best national teams in Brazil because of their playing culture.
He became a professional in the Italian Serie A at AS Rome in 1947/48. He moved to Anconitana Ancona in 1949/50 and went to South America in 1951 to the Colombian club Deportivo Samarios. This is where he ended his career in 1952.
He took part in the 1938 Football World Cup in France for the Hungarian national football team. With his goals, he played a decisive role in the vice-world champion title of the Hungarians. The Magyars defeated Italy 2-4 in the final with scandalous circumstances.
Zsengellér came second in the scoring list with 6 goals behind Leônidas da Silva from Brazil. All in all, he scored 39 internationals and 32 goals.
József Takács played with Budapesti Vasas in the highest Hungarian league from 1917 to 1926. After attracting attention as the best scorer of the championship in 1926, a season later, József Takács moved to the Ferencvárosi Torna Club, one of the country’s leading football clubs at the time. In his first year with the “green Eagles”, he won the Hungarian championship in 1928 and again became top scorer. He became known beyond Hungary through his appearances in the Mitropapokal.
József Takács reached the final with Ferencváros in 1928, where he met last year’s finalist SK Rapid in Vienna. Hungary won the first leg in Budapest 7-1 with Takacs score 3 goals. The return leg in Vienna went to Rapid with 5:3, which was enough for Ferencváros to win the title. József Takács was the best scorer with 10 goals in the competition. The striker remained active with the green-whites until 1934, winning two more championships and three more top scorers. In 1932, Ferencváros scored 42 goals in one season and won all 22 championship games.
His goalscoring record in the national dress (26 goals in 32 matches) was also impressive. It is said that France’s national goalkeeper Maurice Cottenet declared his resignation from the Tricolore team in 1927 because Takács had overcome him 6 times in a 13-1 win.
The national team won the World Cup in 1954 with him as captain. Walter remained loyal to FC Kaiserslautern for over 30 years at club level and won 2 German championships (1951 and 1953) as a player with the club.
He was honored many times for his footballing and social achievements and was the first player to be appointed an honorary captain of the national team in 1954. Fritz Walter died in Alsenborn in 2002, less than a year after the death of his long-time wife Italia.
In the quarter-finals of the 2002 FIFA World Cup against the United States national football team, the German players played in his honor with a mourning pile.