Published On: Fri, Mar 3rd, 2017

Just In!! Former Madrid, France player, Kopa is dead

Former Real Madrid and France midfielder, Raymond Kopa has died at the age of 85.

His death was confirmed by Reims, the French club where he was honorary president.

Kopa won three European Cups alongside the likes of Ferenc Puskas and Alfredo Di Stefano in the 1950s, and had been hospitalised in the French town of Angers since Sunday.

Le Courrier de l’Ouest reported on Friday that Kopa passed away earlier that same morning at 8:00 a.m. CET.

He was the first French winner of the Ballon d’Or in 1958 after being named the best player of that year’s World Cup.

Kopa was born in northern France in October 1931, the son of Polish immigrants who had left their native land to work in French mines.

After working as a miner himself, and losing two fingers while doing so, Kopa — whose surname was shortened from its original form, Kopaszewski, began his football career at Angers before forging his reputation during five seasons at Reims.

Two French titles and an European Cup runners-up medal from the competition’s first-ever final in 1956 followed, and it was Kopa’s display in a historic 4-3 win for the Spanish club at the Parc des Princes in Paris that helped earn him a summer move to Madrid.

He was even banned for six months in 1963 after claiming “The professional footballer is the only man who can be bought and sold without his consent like a slave.”

France’s Players’ Union, UNFP, paid tribute to Kopa by tweeting the front page of a paper bearing his famous quote.

“The UNFP presents its condolences to the family and friends of Raymond Kopa, a monument of our football, who chose the players’ cause,” it added in a tweet on its official feed.

Kopa’s former club, Reims tweeted, “The Stade de Reims is in mourning following the death of our Honorary President and legend Raymond Kopa. More than the SDR, football has lost a great star.”

In a statement on their official website, Madrid also paid tribute.

“The Frenchman was one of the great stars of his time, and at Real Madrid, he formed a legendary attack along with other legends such as Rial, Puskas, Gento and Di Stefano.

“Real Madrid shares the pain of his family and sends their condolences on his passing.”

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- Wisdom Nwedene is a writer, Blogger and a motivational speaker. Contact, Nwedenewisdom@gmail.com or via Facebook Wisdom Nwedene