Real Madrid legend Alfredo di Stefano has topped a poll to pick the 100 best players in the Spanish club's history, narrowly defeating France's Zinedine Zidane for the number one spot. Di Stefano, who played for the club from 1953 to 1963 after beginning his career with Argentinian outfit River Plate, gathered 28,466 votes, just 122 more than Zidane who retired from football in 2006 after five seasons with Real.
Real's current captain Raul, who is closing in on Di Stefano's league record of 216 goals, which he netted between 1953 and 1964, came in third place with 28,090 votes, the club revealed via a statement on its official website. " ," it said.
Just over one million votes were cast by 50,323 Real Madrid fans in the 30 days since the poll was launched on 6 March, the club's 106th anniversary. Voters could pick from 100 players who were pre-selected by a team of club historians.
Brazilian defender Roberto Carlos, who joined Turkish side Fenerbahce in June 2007 after 11 years with Real, came in fourth place while Santiago Bernabeu, who served as president of the club between 1943 and 1978, finished fifth.
Real is planning to hold a gala to honour all the players who were selected in the poll, and will launch a series of biographies and other collectables based on the survey results.
A two-time European Player of the Year, the Argentina-born Di Stefano scored a total of 418 goals in 510 games in all tournaments for Real Madrid. Earlier this year, the defending Spanish champions and present La Liga leaders unveiled a statue of the 81-year-old - Real's honorary president - at the club's training ground. Di Stefano became a Spanish citizen in 1956.