MADRID, Feb 24 (Reuters) Spanish football has paid tribute to the country's most prolific striker Telmo Zarra who died of a heart attack yesterday at the age of 85.
Zarra holds the record for scoring in the Primera Liga, notching up 251 goals in 277 games in a 15-year career at Basque club Athletic Bilbao during the 1940s and 1950s.
''Football fans everywhere will remember him, he was one of the best forwards I've ever seen,'' said Real Madrid great Alfredo Di Stefano who himself has recently recovered from a heart attack.
''He was one of the legends of Spanish football,'' said Spanish Football Federation Angel Maria Villar.
Mexican striker Hugo Sanchez said that Zarra's goal-scoring records had been an example to him when he played for Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid.
''He was my master, an inspiration and reference to me when I played in Spain,'' said Sanchez, who was five times the season's top scorer in the Primera Liga .
Zarra was top scorer in the Spanish first division on six occasions, netting a record 38 times in the 1950-51 season when there were only 16 teams in the league and scoring 20 goals in seven games in the 1946-47 campaign.
He twice scored five goals in a game and helped Bilbao win four Spanish Cups and one league title.
Zarra scored 20 goals in 20 appearances for Spain, including the winner in their famous 1-0 victory over England at the Maracana stadium in the 1950 World Cup in Brazil.
He scored four goals in the tournament, helping Spain claim fourth place in their best showing on the world stage.
REUTERS DH PM2054