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Di Stefano leaves hospital after bypass surgery

MADRID, Jan 19 (Reuters) - Real Madrid honorary president Alfredo Di Stefano was discharged from hospital in Valencia on Thursday just over three weeks after quadruple heart bypass surgery.

Medical staff at the La Fe hospital said the 79-year-old, who is Real's record goal scorer, was well on the road to recovery after being fitted with a pacemaker.

Di Stefano, was admitted to hospital after suffering a heart attack on Dec. 24. He had the bypass surgery four days later and left intensive care on Jan. 3.

Head of cardiovascular surgery Anastasio Montero said the former player's collaboration and physical strength had played a large part in his recovery.

'He feels good, although it must be remembered that this has been quite a long process,' he told reporters.

'His physical strength has been evident throughout and I think that he will be in very good shape in a short time.

'He has been in hospital for some time and has not yet been able to do any normal exercise. He will now begin the physical rehabilitation and, taking into account that he is a man of (nearly) 80, he will soon feel better when he is at home.'

Montero added that Di Stefano would remain in Valencia with his children in the next few months so the hospital could monitor his progress.

Di Stefano made no comment as he left in a wheelchair but thanked hospital staff, local authorities, friends, fans and the media for their support in a written statement.

Widely regarded as one of the greatest players in the history of the game, Di Stefano led Real to five consecutive European Cup triumphs between 1956 and 1960 and was European Footballer of the Year in 1957 and 1959.

As well as the European triumphs, Di Stefano also won eight Spanish league titles, the World Club Cup and the King's Cup before joining Barcelona-based Espanyol after falling out with Real president Santiago Bernabeu in 1964.

Born of Italian parents in Buenos Aires, Di Stefano played for Argentina and Spain during a 22-year career and retired aged 40 in 1967 before embarking becoming a distinguished coach.

He was made Real's honorary president in 2000, is an active member of the club's veterans association and a regular presence at official events and player presentations.