“Raymond Kopa was a legend of French football… and was one of France’s most admired sportsmen.”

Former Real Madrid player, Raymond Kopa has been pronounced dead.

The France and Real Madrid legend, was a great pioneer of the game and also the third football player to be honoured with the Ballon d'Or award in 1958.

Despite enduring a tough upbringing, the football royalty  became a professional footballer against all odds, always taking home the big wins.

Kopa worked on the coal mines  at the age of 14 and  lost a finger in the process, and at the age of 17, he joined French second-tier side, Angiers, before moving on to Stade de Reims two years later.
He became a  national champion in 1953 and 1955, leading his team to compete in the inaugural European Cup.
Raymond Kopa holds the European Cup alongside Alfredo Di Stefano in 1957

Although his team reached the final, they were beaten  4-3 by a Real Madrid side containing Alfredo Di Stefano.
His performance at the tournament highly impressed the Spanish giants and by summer that year, he joined Los Blancos and earned the nickname ‘Little Napoleon’. 

Real Madrid’s Raymond Kopa, Rial, Alfredo Di Stefano, Ferenc Puskas and Gento pose before La Liga match in June, 1959

Kopa was signed alongside his team mate Ferenc Puskas-an arrangement which created one of the greatest attacking forces in football history.

Raymond Kopa next to Michael Owen as Cristiano Ronaldo picks up Ballon d’Or

Raymond Kopa in January, during Cristiano Ronaldo’s Ballon d’Or reception

To retain their European Cup crown, in 1957 Real Madrid beat Fiorentina in the finals and Kopa was the first french man to ever win a trophy. In 1958, he enjoyed his most unforgettable year of his career.

Raymond Kopa and Alfredo Di Stefano hand Luis Figo his Ballon d’Or in 2000

Raymond Kopa shows off his skills

  In 1959, he helped Real Madrid beat his old club, making it four European Cup victories before returning to Stade de Reims later that summer.

Raymond Kopa in action for France in 1961

Kopa later added another two league titles to his wins.

Real Madrid issued a statement mourning the loss of a “great star” and offered commiserations to his family.

According to  the statement, “He was a good player with extraordinary technical gifts and the French man remains one of the greatest stars of his time.”

French president Francois Hollande also released a  statement, praising the late football star. The statement read in part: “Raymond Kopa was a legend of French football… and was one of France’s most admired sportsmen.”

Ohuoba Moses  C.

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