George Cohen, a defender who played on England’s World Cup-winning team in 1966, has died. Check out his Fulham career and illness.
George Cohen : Fulham | illness | Was Jewish | Wife
England coach Alf Ramsey duly tried out Cohen for his international debut a month later in a 2–1 win over Uruguay.
With Armfield suffering an injury – badly timed with the World Cup imminent – Cohen went on to play in 21 of the next 23 internationals.
Armfield managed two more caps in preparation for the 1966 tournament after regaining his fitness, but Cohen was Ramsey’s first choice by the time the England-hosted competition started.
George Cohen Fulham
Cohen was a one-club footballer, joining Fulham professionally in 1956 and remaining there until retirement through injury 13 years later in March 1969.
Fulham had been relegated to the Second Division the season before he retired as a player and did not return to the top flight for 33 years.
He ended his career with 459 appearances for the club, a figure surpassed by only five other players in Fulham’s history. As a full-back he also managed to score six League goals for Fulham.
As vice-captain in the final against West Germany Cohen won his 30th cap.
He blocked the last-minute Lothar Emmerich free-kick that subsequently found its way across the England six-yard box for Wolfgang Weber to equalise 2–2. England won 4–2 in extra-time.
Cohen played seven of the next eight internationals. His 37th and final England appearance was a 2–0 win over Northern Ireland at Wembley on 22 November 1967.
Although he never scored for England, Cohen was regarded as “England’s greatest right-back” due to his skilled attacking intent. He was the first of England’s 1966 XI to retire from international football.
George Cohen illness
Cohen was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 1976 and struggled with the illness for 14 years.
He became a campaigner and fundraiser for research into the disease, which claimed the life of his 1966 teammate and captain Bobby Moore, and into dementia, which affected a number of the England team in their later years.
Cohen played his entire club career for Fulham, where he made 459 appearances between 1956 and 1969. He retired from playing at 29 after a serious knee injury.
“Everyone at Fulham Football Club is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of one of our greatest ever players — and gentlemen — George Cohen,” the Premier League club said in a statement.
Cohen was the vice-captain for England when the team beat West Germany 4-2 in the 1966 World Cup final at Wembley Stadium. England striker Geoff Hurst scored a hat trick in that match, which went to extra time.
“Very sad to hear my friend and England teammate George Cohen has died,” Hurst wrote on Twitter. “Everyone, without exception, always said that George was such a lovely man. He will be sadly missed, my heartfelt thoughts are with George’s wife Daphne and his family.”
Cohen, recently named the best right back in English history, is not Jewish, but does have Jewish heritage (his name is Cohen, after all).
In 1962 he married Daphne Church. She and their sons, Andrew and Anthony, survive him.
Regrettably, there’s no further information about his wife.