Real Madrid legend Alfredo di Stefano, one of the greatest footballers in history, is in a coma in a Spanish hospital after suffering a heart attack Saturday, officials said.
Rescuers battled for nearly 20 minutes to revive the 88-year-old after his heart and breathing stopped while he was eating with his family near the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in central Madrid.
“He had suffered a cardiorespiratory arrest,” a source at Madrid Emergency Services told AFP.
“The emergency services began resuscitation and after 18 minutes managed to get him out of the arrest and he was taken in a serious condition to the Gregorio Maranon hospital.”
The Argentina-born forward was lying in a coma in the cardiac ward of the hospital, a hospital spokesman said.
“His status is that he is in a coma and we are keeping an eye on his progress,” he told AFP.
The hospital later issued a written medical report saying Di Stefano was sedated and breathing with the help of a machine.
It described his condition as “serious but stable”.
Leading newspaper El Pais said Di Stefano had been eating with his family when he felt ill and sat down in his wheelchair.
By the time an ambulance arrived he was in cardiorespiratory arrest.
Real Madrid said in a brief statement on their website that club president Florentino Perez had visited Di Stefano in hospital.
Di Stefano had been hospitalised seven times for similar episodes, and underwent emergency quadruple heart by-pass surgery after suffering a major heart attack in 2005.
He is one of Real Madrid’s most celebrated players, having represented the club for 11 seasons between 1953 and 1964, winning five European Cups.
He now holds the title of honourary club president.
He was born in Buenos Aires and began his professional career with hometown club River Plate in 1945 before leaving for Colombian outfit Millonarios four years later after the Argentine league ground to a halt following a pay strike.