This website has been replete with stories about a certain Argentine doing rather well in the Spanish league, so apologies for yet another. But don’t worry – a little rest for regular readers from having to read my recent odes to Señorito Messi, because this one’s got a bit of history behind it.
Before Messi at Barça, there was Maradona, of course, and before him Mario Kempes did rather better in Spain, for Valencia. But before Kempes, a couple of decades before, was a man some say merits the title of greatest player of all time – and certainly the most successful Argentine in the history of La Liga (at least until Messi wins a few more trophies).
Alfredo Di Stéfano did, after all, do quite well with Real Madrid in the 1950s and ’60s. So well, in fact, that he was named lifetime president of the club and now speaks with a distinctly un-Argentine (although still not entirely Iberian) lilt to his voice. And on Monday, the Merengues honoured him further by unveiling their new official club aeroplane, to be used by the first-team squad for all foreign encounters from now on – and they’ve named it after Di Stéfano.
His nickname, La Saeta Rubia, or ‘The Blond Arrow’, has been given in part to the new place, which will get its first use when the team fly to Rome on Tuesday for the Champions League clash with Lazio. La Saeta was officially unveiled by Di Stéfano himself, and is operated by Swiftair. As well as all Real Madrid’s football teams, it will be most frequently used by the club’s basketball side, who have to travel abroad frequently to take part in the Euroleague (it says here).
Will Barça, fifty years from now, be unveiling a plane called La Pulga? Will Real Madrid’s first moon landing (I hate to be giving their president ideas, but with his ego it’s surely only a matter of time) also pay homeage to Di Stéfano? Who knows what the future will bring…