Di Stefano passed away on Monday at the age of 88 after suffering a heart attack on the weekend, and Ferguson has joined others by revealing his admiration for a player who led Madrid to five successive European Cups between 1956 and 1960.
"The great question which always comes up is 'who are the greatest players?'" the former Manchester United manager told Sky Sports News. "There is a phalanx of great ones – Cruyff, Maradona, Pele, Puskas and Di Stefano. Di Stefano was one of the greatest in my mind.
"In the few times we played Real Madrid over the years he was always at the game, always at the reception. He was at the United celebrations for the Munich air disaster – he came along with the Real Madrid players. Of course they had played against Manchester United in the semi-final the year before, and they played them after the Munich air disaster in 1958.
"He was always the focus of Real Madrid wherever they went. He had a fantastic life, and I'm proud to have been associated with him in a small way."