REAL HON­OUR FOR KOPA

Leg­endary French player had helped make ‘Madrid magic’

New Straits Times - - Sport -

CLUB pres­i­dent Florentino Perez led a Real Madrid del­e­ga­tion pay­ing their re­spects at the fu­neral of Ray­mond Kopa on Wed­nes­day, call­ing the French great “a player who marked an era.”

The at­tack­ing mid­fielder, who died aged 85 last Fri­day, won the Euro­pean Cup with Madrid in 1957, 1958 and 1959.

Perez was ac­com­pa­nied by two of Kopa’s for­mer team­mates at Real, Jose San­ta­maria and Pachin.

“We have lost a great Real Madrid player, a player who marked an era,” said Perez.

“The his­tory of Real Madrid has been made be­cause of play­ers like Ray­mond Kopa, who made Madrid magic and who car­ried the club’s val­ues all over the world.”

The cer­e­mony was held at the Saint-Mau­rice cathe­dral in Angers, the western French city where Kopa be­gan his play­ing ca­reer.

With a ca­pac­ity for 1,200 peo­ple, the cathe­dral was packed.

The fu­neral was also at­tended by for­mer team­mate and France le­gend Just Fon­taine, scorer of 13 goals at the 1958 World Cup.

On top of the Euro­pean Cups, Kopa won the Bal­lon d’Or in 1958, the same year that he was a cen­tral part of the French side beaten 5-2 by Pele’s Brazil in a clas­sic World Cup semi-fi­nal.

“Our at­tack in 1958 scored 23 goals, I got 13. Ray­mond set up a few for me and I set up a few for him.

“He was a great lad,” said Fon­taine, now aged 83.

The pres­i­dents of Angers and Reims, Kopa’s other pro­fes­sional clubs, were also in at­ten­dance at the fu­neral.

The son of Pol­ish im­mi­grants, Kopa was born in north­ern France in 1931 and was a miner be­fore start­ing his play­ing ca­reer.

He also won two Span­ish league ti­tles at Madrid and four French ti­tles over two spells with Reims.

He played for the lat­ter against Madrid in the first Euro­pean Cup fi­nal in Paris in 1956.

The city of Angers, where he played be­tween 1949 and 1951, are set to an­nounce plans later this month to re­name the lo­cal foot­ball sta­dium af­ter Kopa.

It is cur­rently named af­ter Jean Bouin, a French Olympic sil­ver medal­list in the 5000 me­tres in 1912 who was killed in ac­tion in the First World War.

EPA PIC

The cof­fin of late French foot­ball le­gend Ray­mond Kopa ar­rives for the fu­neral cer­e­mony in Angers, France on Wed­nes­day. Kopa died at the age of 85 last Fri­day.

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