Di Stefano making good progress

January 2, 2006

MADRID, Jan 2 (Reuters) - Real Madrid's honorary president and record goal scorer Alfredo Di Stefano is making good progress following quadruple heart bypass surgery.

'The patient continues to be clinically stable and there is a clear improvement in the functioning of his kidneys,' a statement from La Fe hospital in Valencia said on Monday.

'If this situation continues it is expected that he will be transferred to the ward in the next few days.'

The 79-year-old former player underwent the surgery last week after suffering a heart attack.

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez was in upbeat mood after visiting Di Stefano in hospital on Monday evening.

'The truth is I thought he was in good form,' he told reporters. 'I talked with him and he was the same as ever. The best news is that everything is going according to plan.

'I'm sure Alfredo will enjoy seeing Real Madrid play many more matches in the future.'

Widely regarded as one of the greatest players in the history of the game, Di Stefano led Real Madrid to five consecutive European Cup triumphs between 1956 and 1960 and was voted European Footballer of the Year in 1957 and 1959.

As well as his European triumphs with Real, Di Stefano also won eight Spanish league titles, the World Club Cup 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 and Spain during his 22-year career and retired at the age of 40 in 1967.