Former team mates and opponents led the tributes to Hungarian legend Ferenc Puskas who died on Friday, aged 79.
Alfredo di Stefano, who played alongside Puskas during Real Madrid’s golden age, said Puskas was one of the greatest players of all time.
“I have lost a friend and quality player. That’s how Puskas was as a person and a football player. He was one of the greatest players of all time but life, my friend, when you least expect it comes to en end,” he said.
Real president Ramon Calderon also paid tribute to the player known as the Galloping Major.
“It is one of the saddest days for Madrid fans and certainly the saddest since I became president. He was a player who made his mark in a legendary forward line,” said Ramon Calderon.
“He had many friends and was a man liked by everyone, admired as a professional and a person.
“I will remember his goals with much affection, he was the pichichi (top scorer in Spain) on four occasions.
“The Madrid fans in general, and those of my age in particular, will feel a great emptiness for the loss of one of our childhood heroes.
“I want to send a big hug to all of his family and friends in this very painful moments.”
Former England forward Tom Finney, who missed the famous 6-3 victory over England at Wembley in 1953 because of injury, was equally effusive.
“My memories are that I have never seen the likes of … as a team or an individual,” said the former England striker.
“After losing 6-3 at Wembley we went to Budapest and lost 7-1. They were a wonderful side that day, not just Puskas, although he had a fine game as per usual.
“I would put Puskas in any list of all-time greats. A wonderful player and a wonderful person and he really enjoyed playing the game.
Goalkeeper Gyula Grosics, now one of only two survivors of the 1950s Hungarian Mighty Magyars team, knew Puskas on and off the pitch.
“I played with him in (club team) Honved and the national team for years, I can say that a friend has left. It’s very hard to accept the fact he’s no longer here,” Grosics said.
Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson said he had memories of a “special player”.
“It’s sad. I met him a few times at games over the years and when a great player like that passes the one thing you can do is reflect on what a great player he was and the great games he played in,” said Ferguson.
“I saw him play quite a few times. He was a special player in his day, without question. He was part of the great golden period of Hungarian football at a time when they were producing not just great footballers but also great coaches.
“How they didn’t win the World Cup in 1954 is beyond me.”