Lebo Mothiba’s team wore specially designed shirts for their Ligue 1 match away to Stade Reims on Saturday in honour of the victims of the of a terrorist attack in their city on Tuesday but still suffered a heart-breaking 2-1 loss.
Four people died and more than 10 were seriously injured during the attack at a Christmas market and the club decided to wear the specially designed jerseys on which were inscribed: “Strasbourg mon amor” (Strasbourg my love) in honour of the dead.
“Racing, still profoundly marked by this week’s events, would like to reaffirm again its deepest support for the families, friends, and all those affected by this incident,” a club statement said along with a picture of players – Jonas Martin, Lebo Mothiba and Anthony Caci -wearing the shirt at the foot of Strasbourg’s world-famous cathedral.
And while the city of Strasbourg was plunged into mourning following the deadly attack, their hosts Stade de Reims unveiled the statue of the great Raymond Kopa prior to the start of the same match against.
Reims were European Cup finalists twice in 1956 and ’59 and on both occasions to Real Madrid, with Kopa, an integral part of the French team of the 1950’s and considered one of the leading players of his generation.
His influence in the Reims team where he played as an advanced playmaker who was quick and an exceptional dribbler with a penchant for goals, is what attracted Real Madrid for whom he played between ’56 – ’59 before returning to Reims where he played until he retired.
Awarded the Ballon D’Or during 1958, Kopa was described by legendary Edson Arantes do Nascimento (Pele) during 2004 as among 125 greatest living footballers of all time and Reims, chasing a spot in the Europa Cup, unveiled his stature on Saturday.
Perhaps buoyed by the unveiling of the great Kopa, Reim raced into an early lead when Malian attacking midfielder Moussa Doumbia found an opening for the hosts as early as the seventh minute to calm their nerves.
But Strasbourg, coming into this match on the back on an unbeaten nine game run, levelled through Mothiba’s twin striker Adrien Thomasson four minutes after the break.
However, Mathieu Cafaro was to break the hearts of Strasbourg when he fashioned the winner on 66th minute and much as the visitors tried to claw their way back into the game, it was not to be as the hosts hung on for a crucial victory with Mothiba for once failing to find the net like he has done on a regular basis during the last couple of matches.