Raymond Kopa, the first Frenchman to win the Ballon d’Or, is deceased. He was 85 years old.
The Secretary of State for Sports of France, Thierry Braillard, confirmed the death Friday. He described Kopa as a French football legend.
Graceful midfielder and outstanding passer – Lionel Messi has often been compared to him -, Kopa won the 1958 Ballon d’Or, while he was lining up with Real Madrid. Kopa also won the European Cup three times with the Spanish club in 1957, 1958, and 1959.
Son of Polish immigrants, Kopa began his career with Angers, before joining Reims, the club where he spent most of his career. After four French titles in the East of the country and after leading Reims to the final of the 1956 European Cup, Real Madrid made its acquisition for 52 million francs, a colossal sum for the time.
He has been selected 45 times for France, scoring 18 goals. It was after a 2-1 victory over France against Spain in 1955 that he inherited his nickname “Napoleon”, in reference to his small stature, not without Recall that of the ex-emperor.