Friday, December 26, 2014

Raymond Kopa: the playmaker behind Fontaine's 13 goals




It is well-known that Just Fontaine scored 13 goals at the WC Finals in 1958.  He is the world-holder for the number of goals scored in a single WC Finals.  This number considered amazing since no one came close to the record before or after him.  Ronaldo(Brazil)'s 8 goals in 2002 remained the closest ever to it.  Most of his goals were, however, contributed by his French teammate, Raymond Kopa.  Because of his performance, he was rewarded with the Ballon d'Or that year(Just Fontaine came third).

He was a creative midfielder known for his  playmaker skills and scoring ability.  He was nicknamed "Little Napoleon".  He was perhaps the best French player  of the French Golden Generation of 1950's.  Along with Roger Marche, Just Fontaine, Jean Vincent, Robert Jonquet, Armand Penverne, Dominique Colonna, and Roger Piantoni, France reached the semifinal of 1958 World Cup Finals.




Born in France of Polish background, he was widely considered to be the greatest French player before the emerge of Michel Platini and Zinedine Zidane.  His grandparents moved to Germany, where his parents were born.  At the end of the First World War, France suffered a shortage of workers.  In September 1919 France signed a treaty with Poland permitting Polish workers to work legally within its borders.  His family moved to the north of France in search of a better life the same year.  They were a family of miners.  They settled in the small mining town of Nœux-les-Mines, not far from Lille.  In 1931, Raymond Kopaszewski was born.   The origin surname of  family was "Kopaszewski" before shortening to Kopa when he was a school boy.

To help his poor family, he became a miner at the age of 14.  By 18, he was well-known in his region for his football skills, but Kopa's talents was ignored by big clubs such as Lens and Lille.  He joined second division club SCO Angers.  He first made his name with Stade de Remis.  In 1953, he helped them to win the Latin Cup.  Three years later, they reached the Final of the first ever European Cup, where they lost to Alfredo Di Stefano's European Cup.  The following season, he joined the Spanish club, forming one of the greatest lineup in the history of the game.  He would win three European Cup titles playing with the best players in the world.  In the 1959 Final, Real Madrid played against his former club.  


with Di Stefano at Madrid

Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index.

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