The football world is reeling from the news that the legendary Alfredo Di Stefano passed away earlier today.
For my father’s generation there was no one to compare to the great man and my old man certainly regarded Alfredo the greatest player he had seen in the flesh. In 1960 he watched in admiration as Di Stefano gave a virtuoso performance at Hampden, together with the other Real Madrid giants in that great team, as they annihilated Eintracht Frankfurt with a brand of football never before seen on the continent.
Cesar Luis Menotti recently claimed that there were 4 all time kings of football. In order – Di Stefano, Pele, Cruyff and Maradona.
As Celtic fans we revered Di Stefano after we had played in his testimonial in the Bernabeau stadium in 1967, What an honour it was to play in that game and when Jock Stein asked the Lisbon Lions to play after a long, hard season the players were unanimous in their answer – yes.
Celtic were actually set up to play in that game. Although Celtic were the new holders of the European Cup Real still considered themselves to be the Premier team on the continent and this would be their opportunity to show these northern upstarts that they were still the main men.
As we all know Jimmy Johnstone had the game of his life and charmed the 120,000 Real fans with his talent, so much that they chanted ‘Ole !’ each time he beat a defender.
Make no mistake, Celtic won the European Cup in Lisbon but they really became European Champions after they defeated Real.