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By ESPN Staff
Nov 17, 2006

Di Stefano mourns loss of friend and pal Puskas

MADRID, Nov 17 (Reuters) - Alfredo Di Stefano, who formed a fearsome strike partnership with Hungarian Ferenc Puskas at Real Madrid, said the game had lost one of its greats.

'They called me at home at seven this morning to tell me the sad news. I have lost a friend and a quality player. This is how Puskas was as a person and a player,' Di Stefano told the Real Madrid website after Puskas died on Friday, aged 79.

'Puskas was one of the greatest football players of all time, but life, my friend, comes to an end when you least expect it.'

Di Stefano, honorary president at Real, and Puskas terrorised opposing defences from when the Hungarian joined in 1958, until both players retired in 1967. During that time they collected six league titles and conquered Europe.

In the 1960 European Cup final, widely regarded as the greatest game of club football played, Puskas scored four and Di Stefano three as Real beat Eintracht Frankfurt 7-3.

'The last time I saw him was two years ago when I went with some other veterans to Budapest to participate in a celebration dedicated to him,' Di Stefano added.

'He was born on April 27 and I was born on July 26, so when we celebrated each other's birthdays there were only a few months difference between us.'

The Argentine-born Di Stefano led Real to five consecutive European Cup triumphs between 1956 and 1960 and was named European Footballer of the Year in 1957 and 1959.

He played for Argentina, Colombia and Spain.