French football legend Raymond Kopa dies at 85

Paris, March 3 (IANS) Legendary French football player Raymond Kopa, one of the historical stars of Real Madrid, where he won three European Cups, died on Friday at the age of 85.

The newspaper Le Courrier de l’Ouest announced the death of Kopa, who was also a striker for Stade de Reims, reports Efe.

Kopa died on February 24 morning after he was hospitalised on February 19 following a long illness.

Raymond Kopaszewski was born in Noeud-les-Mines, northern France, in October 1931, and in 1958 became the first French player to win the Ballon d’Or.

He is regarded in France as the true forerunner to former UEFA president Michel Platini and Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane.

Raised in a family of Poles who immigrated to France, Kopa shone with the France squad in the 1958 World Cup and was chosen as best player of the tournament.

He moved to Real Madrid in 1956 from Stade Reims, both being the two great soccer powers of Europe in the mid-50s.

With Real Madrid, he won three European Cups and two La Liga titles in the three seasons he played in Spain, before returning to Stade Reims in 1959.

–IANS

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