Sports icon David Beckham has paid tribute to South American soccer legend Alfredo Di Stefano, who has died just days after his 88th birthday.

The Argentine star, hailed as one of the greatest players of all time, suffered a cardiac arrest in Madrid, Spain on Saturday (05Jul14), a day after he celebrated his birthday.

He was placed in an induced coma by doctors but passed away on Monday (07Jul14).

Famous for his record-breaking stint with Spanish side Real Madrid during the 1950s, di Stefano remains the club's second highest goalscorer of all time.

Now Beckham, who played for the team between 2003 and 2007, has spoken out to pay his respects to one of soccer's greats.

In a post on his page, he writes, "Sad to hear of the passing of Alfredo di Stefano. I was fortunate to get to know him, he was a true gentlemen and Real Madrid legend. For every player, it was not only a privilege to play for the club, but it was made even more special as he was part of the family and its history. He was one of the real greats in football. Descanse en paz (rest in peace)."