Real Madrid pay respects at Kopa funeral

Coffin bearers carry the casket of late French soccer legend Raymond Kopa following the funeral ceremony at the cathedral Saint Maurice in Angers, western France, 08 March 2017. Kopa has died at the age of 85 on 03 March 2017. Photo: Backpagepix

ANGERS, France - 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.

AFP

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