Real Madrid are in mourning after Alfredo di Stefano passed away at 88 years old. The Argentinian will always be remembered as one of the best players in football history, but very few people know why he was nicknamed ‘La Saeta Rubia’ –the Blond Saeta.
He received that nickname in his early years as a footballer, when he used to play in his native Argentina. After having played for Huracan, Alfredo returned to River Plate, the club where he had grown up. His first full season with the red-striped team was spectacular as he scored 27 goals in 30 matches, helping River to become champions of the league.
Obviously, Di Stefano’s great performances didn’t go without notice in the Argentinian press. Journalist Roberto Neuberger, who used to work at El Grafico, decided to nickname him ‘Saeta Rubia’. A ‘saeta’ is a kind of arrow, used in ancient times to be fired with bows or crossbows, something that defined Di Stefano’s characteristics pretty well.
His speed on the field was decisive in many games, and his 27 goals proved him to be River Plate’s main weapon. The adjective ‘Rubia’ –blonde- referred to the colour of his hair.
This is how Di Stefano explained how he got the nickname: “It was a journalist from El Grafico who started calling me that, because I was blonde and very fast, and since River was characterised by a slow and serene football, I changed their style. I was a striker who would play very deep up front, but I would also run the wings, so they gave me that nickname back then and I have had it for all my life.”
The fans also liked that nickname. In fact, River Plate’s crowd would sing this song in every game: “Socorro, socorro. Ahí viene la Saeta con su propulsión a Chorro” –Help! Help! Here comes the Saeta with his jet propulsion.” He also brought that nickname to Real Madrid where, just like in River, he made history.