Real Madrid legend Alfredo di Stefano claimed on Saturday that he had just been lucky to play at the level he did because there were 40 other guys in his neighbourhood who had been better than him. The 81-year-old - the club's honorary president - said that for various reasons the other boys from his area of Flores in Buenos Aires had not gone on to play football.

"I was just incredibly lucky to become a footballer," the Argentina-born Di former player told Spanish sports daily Marca. "I did not think that I would ever play in the top league.

"In my neighbourhood, there were 40 better players than myself, but some opted to study, others had to work, and the rest could not afford to buy boots," continued Di Stafano, who on Sunday will be honoured with a statue of himself being unveiled at Real's training ground.

Di Stefano, who will be alongside FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter and UEFA President Michel Platini at the unveiling, said that the best players he had ever known were the five strikers who became known as the scoring machine that played for River Plate during the 1940s.

For Di Stefano, who became a Spanish citizen in 1956, the best players presently playing are Barcelona's Argentinian ace Lionel Messi, Kaka of AC Milan and Brazil, and Manchester United's Portuguese winger Cristiano Ronaldo, while he added that France great Zinedine Zidane was without doubt the greatest player to have donned Real Madrid's strip in recent years.

Di Stefano played for Real from 1953 to 1963 after beginning his career with River Plate in his homeland. He was capped 31 times by his adopted country and scored 49 goals in the European Cup for Real, a spell that saw them win European club football's most prestigious trophy five times.

He was twice named European Footballer of the Year in 1957 and 1959, and finishing as the Spanish league's top scorer on five occasions.