Former France and Real Madrid great Kopa dies aged 85

France's President Nicolas Sarkozy (L) poses with French former soccer legend Raymond Kopa, after he was awarded Officer de la Legion d'Honneur, or Legion of Honour, France's highest award, at the Elysee Palace, in Paris on March 17, 2008. REUTERS/Christophe Ena/Pool

PARIS (Reuters) - Former France soccer great Raymond Kopa, who won three European Cups with Real Madrid in the 1950s, died at the age of 85 on Friday.

"Raymond Kopa was a legend of French football... and was one of France's most admired sportsmen," French president Francois Hollande said in a statement.

A crafty advanced playmaker, Kopa guided France to third place at the 1958 World Cup won by Pele's Brazil, and was named the tournament's best player.

"It is a terrible loss, he is a legend," French football federation president Noel Le Graet said in a statement.

Kopa was one of four French players, with Michel Platini, Zinedine Zidane and Jean-Pierre Papin, to have won the Ballon d'Or, football's top individual award.

Born in northern France in a family of Polish immigrants, Kopa won three consecutive European Cups with Real Madrid from 1957.

A pit boy in the coal mines of Noeux les Mines, he lost a finger in a mining accident before starting his football career at Angers at 17.

In 1951, he joined Reims, leading them to the European Cup final in 1956, losing 4-3 to Alfredo Di Stefano's Real Madrid.

Kopa scored 18 goals from 45 caps with France between 1952-62.

(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)