Spurs mourn goalkeeper Ditchburn

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The Independent Online

By Gordon Tynan

The former Tottenham Hotspur and England goalkeeper Ted Ditchburn, who did not miss a League match for nearly six years, has died aged 84.

Ditchburn, who completed 418 League appearances in 1957, which remained a club record until 1975, died on Monday.

He helped Spurs to win the Second Division championship in 1950 and the First Division title the following season and holds the club record of 247 consecutive League appearances between April 1948 and March 1954. He stayed at the club for 22 years, leaving Spurs in 1959.

Ditchburn, who made his international debut against Switzerland in a 6-0 victory in London in 1948, was capped six times by England. He was in England's 1950 World Cup squad in Brazil but did not play in the tournament.

Ditchburn left Spurs to join the Southern League club Romford as player-manager in 1959 and ended his career playing for Brentwood Town in 1965.

The former Real Madrid great Alfredo Di Stefano had heart bypass surgery yesterday, four days after suffering a severe heart attack.

Di Stefano, 79, successfully underwent a quadruple bypass in a five-hour operation at Valencia's La Fe hospital. He was in a "postoperative stage of observation", including "assisted breathing and light circulatory support," a hospital spokesman said. The next 24 hours are going to be very important, he added. Di Stefano will remain under close observation in a special recovery unit.

Di Stefano had to overcome an irregular heartbeat and a fever before doctors at a specialist heart unit in the hospital could operate. At one point he had been described as being in a very serious condition.

Doctors had considered carrying out an angioplasty, in which small balloons are inflated in vessels to improve blood flow, but ultimately decided a bypass was necessary because of Di Stefano's age and past medical problems, including diabetes and a hardening of blood vessels called arteriosclerosis.

Di Stefano, born in Argentina, began his career with River Plate before moving to Colombia's Millionarios in 1949.

He arrived in Spain in 1953 and tried out with FC Barcelona before moving to Real Madrid, where he became their most illustrious player - scoring 454 goals in 684 matches.

Known as La saeta rubia - "The blond arrow" - for his dart-like attacking runs, he was named European Footballer of the Year in 1957 and 1959.

Di Stefano won five consecutive European Cups, scoring in each final. He also won eight Spanish league winners' medals and became Madrid's honorary president in 2000.