Real Madrid’s iconic former striker Alfredo di Stefano has topped a poll to pick the 100 best players in the Spanish club’s history, narrowly defeating France’s Zinedine Zidane for the number one spot.
Di Stefano, who played for the club from 1953-63 after beginning his career with Argentinian outfit River Plate, gathered 28,466 votes, just 122 more than Zidane who retired from football in 2006 after five seasons with Real.
Real captain Raul Gonzalez, who is closing in on Di Stefano’s league record of 216 goals which he netted between 1953 and 1964, came in third place with 28,090 votes, the club said in a statement posted on its Internet site.
“As a result of the survey, younger fans know the mythical players from the earlier years,” it said.
Just over one million votes were cast by 50,323 Real Madrid fans in the 30 days since the poll was launched on March 6, the club’s 106th anniversary. Voters could pick from 100 players who were pre-selected by a team of club historians.
Brazilian defender Roberto Carlos, who joined German side Fenerbahce in June 2007 after 11 years with Real came in fourth place while Santiago Bernabeu who served as president of the club between 1943 and 1978 came in fifth.
Real is planning to hold a gala to honour all the players who were selected in the poll and will launch a series of biographies and other collectables based on the survey results.
A two-time European Player of the Year, Argentinian-born Di Stefano scored a total of 418 goals in 510 games in all tournaments for Real Madrid.
Earlier this year the defending Spanish champions and league leaders unveiled a statue of the 81-year-old — Real’s honorary president — at the club’s training ground. Di Stefano became a Spanish citizen in 1956.
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