Raymond Kopa is number 22 in 90min's Top 50 Greatest Footballers of All Time series
You know how Real Madrid created history with their three successive Champions League titles? Of course you do, it only happened two seasons ago.
Well, old habits die hard. In all the right ways.
The success of one of football's biggest clubs can be due to a number of varying factors, but the truth is that instrumental in cementing themselves as a titan of the game has been the players in their ranks. Some rather good ones, it must be said.
Pretty damn stupendous, in fact.
The likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Raul, Francisco Gento, Hugo Sanchez,
Unlike the forwards listed above, Raymond Kopa was the string that tied Los Blancos together during his three-year stay in the Spanish capital.
The immense goalscoring exploits of his teammates during that era often grabbed the headlines, but the platform from which they could achieve greatness was one crafted and assembled and revolutionised by the French playmaker.
He left his mark on the club in three short, but spellbindingly sweet seasons that brought with it levels of success that have since become to the norm in central Spain.
Raymond Kopa was one of a kind.
Joining the club's ranks from fellow European heavyweights at the time, Reims, Kopa was confirmed to move to Madrid in controversial fashion - agreeing a deal three weeks before Reims' European Cup final against...Real Madrid.
His time in Spain, though, would see him never lose a European Cup final again.
The following three campaigns saw Los Blancos secure another three final victories in the competition - this time with winners' medals for Kopa - as well as two La Liga crowns.
Needless to say, it all worked out rather well.
But that would be a boring and unjust way to herald one man's genius.
Raymond Kopa with Alfredo Di Stefano and Ferenc Puskas at Real Madrid (1959) pic.twitter.com/sAQ6SWjwJw— OldFootballPhotos (@OldFootball11) May 28, 2017
Previously operating in an offensive, central role, the Frenchman as moved into an offensive right (right winger) position by José Villalonga Llorente - although he was not one to hug the touchline.
Kopa was granted freedom to roam infield, cutting inside or allowing his teammates to run beyond him, yet, he was just as comfortable with the ball at his feet anywhere on the pitch.
Madrid had secured the European Cup the season before - as well as two of the previous three La Liga titles - but the manner with which they lifted their game was a direct result of Kopa's involvement. They became a sight to behold.
His style of play was graceful, he read the game beautifully
Kopa made Madrid an unstoppable force, so it was little surprise that Kopa would scoop the Ballon d'Or prize in 1958, having come in third place in the previous two years.
BALLON D'OR 1958— CHE GUEVARA (@DJDOM59) June 14, 2018
Raymond Kopa (Real Madrid) pic.twitter.com/u6Txlsggi9
His final season was to continue in the same vein, reaching the European final once more where a romantic conclusion to his Madrid career would see him face off against his former club Reims.
It was Kopa's joint-most prolific season in front of goal for the club, and he was to be a key contributor once more as Madrid overcame the French outfit 2-0 in the final.
Despite considerable efforts from the club to extend his stay at
RIP Real Madrid great Raymond Kopa — Football Daily (@footballdaily) March 3, 2017
Ballon d'Or pic.twitter.com/BwrZMeA6W6
90min's 'Top 50 Greatest Footballers of All Time' can be found here.
Number 50: Luka Modric
Number 49: John Charles
Number 48: Hugo Sanchez
Number 47: Jairzinho
Number 46: Omar Sivori
Number 45: Paolo Rossi
Number 44: Paul Breitner
Number 43: George Weah
Number 42: Kaka
Number 41: Lev Yashin
Number 40: Gunnar Nordahl
Number 39: Kevin Keegan
Number 38: Hristo Stoichkov
Number 37: Gianluigi Buffon
Number 36: Johan Neeskens
Number 35: Xavi Hernandez
Number 34: Luis Suarez
Number 33: Karl-Heinz Rummenigge
Number 32: Andres Iniesta
Number 31: Rivelino
Number 30: Bobby Moore
Number 29: Socrates
Number 28: Sandor Kocsis
Number 27: Lothar Matthaus
Number 26: Ronaldinho
Number 25: Ruud Gullit
Number 24: Bobby Charlton
Number 23: Giuseppe Meazza