George Cohen, a member of the 1966 World Cup-winning England squad, has died aged 83.
Cohen has spent his entire playing career with Fulhammaking 459 appearances, and was described by George Best as “the best full-back I have ever played against”.
A right-back for Alf Ramsey’s side in 1966, Cohen won the last of his 37 caps just over a year later. He appeared in two FA Cup semi-finals and worked for Fulham as matchday hosts long after his retirement.
Cohen was notoriously blocked by Ramsey from swapping shirts with an Argentine player after a bad-tempered match at the 1966 World Cup and later said he had the picture on a wall at home.
He sold his winner’s medal, bought by Fulham for £80,000, in 1998 for financial reasons, becoming the team’s first player to do so.
Geoff Hurst, who scored a hat-trick in that famous 1966 victory, was one of the first to pay tribute, declaring on Twitter: “Very sad to hear that my friend and England teammate George Cohen has passed away. Everyone, without exception, has always said that George is a lovely man. He will be sorely missed, my deepest thoughts go out to the wife of George, Daphne, and her family.
Hurst and Bobby Charlton are now the only surviving members of the World Cup-winning squad.
Cohen was diagnosed with cancer in 1976 and helped raise money for cancer charities. He was an activist and fundraiser for cancer research, which claimed the life of 1966 teammate and captain Bobby Moore, and on dementia which affected a number of team members in their last years.
Cohen said in 2017 that he would donate his brain for scientific research when he died.
His nephew Ben Cohen played rugby for England and also won a World Cup in 2003.
Fulham also paid tribute to their great club, writing on the club’s official Twitter account“Everyone at Fulham Football Club is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of one of our greatest players – and gentlemen – George Cohen MBE.”
His contribution to the club was recognized in 2016 when they announced that a statue of him located at Craven Cottage had been commissioned. It was unveiled in October this year.
Cohen said at the time: “I find it absolutely wonderful that they even thought I was worthy of [a statue]. Especially since he was alongside Johnny Haynes, the biggest name in Fulham history.
“Being by his side was pretty amazing. It was great to think that not only the club but also the supporters wanted to put a statue of me there.
Football Association chairman Debbie Hewitt said: “We are very sad to hear the news of George Cohen’s death today. George won 37 caps for England and was vice-captain of our World Cup winning team.
“We would like to send our sincere condolences to George’s family and friends at this sad time.”
A posted tribute on England’s official Twitter account was simply titled: “Rest in Peace George.”
The website article confirmed that a full tribute will be paid to Cohen when England host Ukraine in a Euro 2024 qualifier at Wembley on March 26 next year.