Di Stefano in serious condition, needs bypass

  • Other Sport
  • Tuesday, 27 Dec 2005

MADRID: Real Madrid great Alfredo Di Stefano (pic) will require bypass surgery to deal with the serious consequences of the heart attack he suffered in the early hours of Saturday morning. 

Medical staff at La Fe hospital in Valencia said the 79-year-old Argentine would only be able to undergo the surgery when his condition improved. 

“He has a circulation problem and there are some arteries feeding the heart that have been seriously narrowed,” head of cardiac surgery Anastasio Montero told a news conference on Sunday. 

“We need to carry out a bypass to overcome this problem, but we will have to wait for his condition to improve before we can operate. He has had a heart attack and a pulmonary edema and if we operate now it will be in unfavourable circumstances. 

“His heart is beating with difficulty. A person needs sufficient arterial pressure or else they will die and because of the heart attack his heart does not have enough strength. 

“We have inserted a system that will help the heart and the rest of his body function for the time being.” 

Di Stefano, a diabetic and smoker, was admitted to hospital in Sagunto after suffering pains in his chest in the early hours of Saturday. 

He was transferred to a nearby hospital in Valencia on Saturday night where he underwent cardiac catheterism to assess the extent of the damage caused by the heart attack. 

“He has been conscious at all times and when he has been able to he has spoken normally with his family and with the people from Real Madrid who have visited him,” said Valencia health authority spokesman Manuel Cervera. 

Di Stefano, Real’s honorary president and record goalscorer, led the Spanish club to five consecutive European Cup triumphs between 1956 and 1960 and eight Spanish league titles. 

Widely regarded as one of the greatest players in the history of the game, he won the European Footballer of the Year award in 1957 and 1959. 

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

Born of Italian parents in Buenos Aires, Di Stefano played for Argentina, Colombia and Spain during his 22-year career and retired at the age of 40 in 1967, playing his final match against Celtic in Madrid. 

He then went into coaching, leading Boca Juniors and River Plate to Argentine championships and steering Valencia to the Spanish league title in 1971 and victory over Arsenal in the old European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1980. 

Di Stefano returned to take over as Real coach between 1982 and 1984, the side finishing runners-up in the title race in consecutive seasons. 

He was made honorary president in 2000 when Florentino Perez came to power and has been a regular presence at official club events. – Reuters 

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