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Malcolm Finlayson: Legend Alfredo Di Stefano lost his cool with me

Sport | Published:

Malcolm Finlayson today paid tribute to Alfredo di Stefano and recalled the time he made him lose his trademark cool.

The Real Madrid legend died yesterday after suffering a heart attack on Saturday aged 88.

He was part of the all-conquering Madrid team of the 1950s who won five straight European Cups – and came to Molineux in 1957.

Wolves shocked Los Blancos by winning 3-2 in a friendly and Finlayson remembers they never feared di Stefano and Co.

He said: "They were great games against great sides and we didn't fear anyone. We didn't expect to lose.

"They were the champions of Europe and beating everyone when we beat them. That wasn't supposed to happen so they took us back to Madrid to teach us how to play the game and we still drew 2-2.

"Stan Cullis always said Di Stefano had the best balance of a centre forward he had ever seen, the close control and ability." Ramon Marsal scored twice at Molineux but goals from Peter Broadbent, Jimmy Murray and Dennis Wilshaw won it for Wolves.

Tributes have been pouring in for Alfredo Di Stefano following his death at the age of 88

Cullis' side were invited to the Bernabeu for a re-match in the December and drew 2-2 with Finlayson, who won two First Division titles and the 1960 FA Cup with Wolves, enjoying a duel with di Stefano.

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And the 84-year-old recalled the moment he managed to rattle the usually mild-mannered striker at the Bernabeu. "In Madrid we'd be playing them offside and all our defenders moved up like guardsmen," said the keeper, who made 203 appearances for Wolves. "After a little while di Stefano realised it.

"One time he took the ball down and it was just him and me because the defenders had moved up. As he came to me I dived at his feet and got the ball but somehow my hand got in the way of his ankle and he toppled over.

"He was a gentlemanly player, like Sir Stanley Matthews or Sir Tom Finney, but he aimed a little kick at me. It was more a gesture of frustration really but instead of giving a penalty against me the referee gave a free kick against di Stefano.

"He was a great player and they had a good team but so did Wolves."

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