George Cohen dies age 83: Fulham announce death of 1966 World Cup winner

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George Cohen was England’s vice-captain in the 1966 World Cup final

Former England defender George Cohen has passed away, aged 83. Fulham FC confirmed their former player’s death in a statement this morning, with the exact cause of his death still unknown.

Cohen will be most loved at Fulham, where he joined as a teenager in 1956 and remained right through until retiring 13 years later. The former right-back made 459 appearances for the Cottagers after initially working at the club sweeping the terraces and cleaning boots. While a huge influence at his boyhood club, Cohen is most known for his World Cup triumph in 1966. After making his international debut two years later, Cohen headed to the World Cup as Alf Ramsey’s first choice right-back and certainly repaid his trust as he featured from the start in the final against West Germany and was also considered by Ramsey as ‘England’s greatest right-back’.

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The former defender’s success on the international stage led to him being one of five 1966 squad members to be awarded an MBE in 2000 alongside Alan Ball, Ray Wilson, Nobby Stiles and Roger Hunt. Fulham then marked the 50th anniversary of the World Cup win by unveiling a statue of Cohen outside Craven Cottage in 2016 before he was gratefully honoured the freedom of Hammersmith & Fulham.

Cohen’s death leaves Geoff Hurst and Bobby Charlton as the only surviving members of England’s starting line-up from the World Cup final, while there are only three alive from the whole squad. His death follows Hunt, who passed away in September 2021, also aged 83.

What did Fulham say?

Fulham released a statement regarding their former player’s death this morning. It read: “Everyone associated with Fulham Football Club is desperately saddened to learn of the passing of one of our greatest ever players – and gentlemen – George Cohen MBE. A one club man, George made 459 appearances for his beloved Whites, in addition to earning 37 England caps, with whom he famously won the World Cup in 1966.

“This was not just a recognition of his footballing achievements, but also of his tireless campaigning for research into cancer and dementia. Following the introduction of the Forever Fulham award – presented to those players who have truly imprinted themselves upon the fabric of our Club – George was naturally one of the first recipients.

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“Only Johnny Haynes, Eddie Lowe and Les Barrett played more games for us than George. He is, quite simply, Fulham royalty.

“All of our thoughts are with Daphne, his beloved wife of more than 60 years, sons Anthony and Andrew, his grandchildren and extended family, as well as George’s many, many friends.”

The statement also referred to what Cohen had to say following his statue unveiling six years ago. He said: “I mean, to think that they had made a statue; I find it absolutely wonderful that they even thought I was worthy of it. Especially as it was alongside Johnny Haynes, the greatest name in Fulham’s history. To be alongside him, it was rather unbelievable. It was great to think that not only the Club, but the supporters had wanted to put a statue of me there.”

Tributes to George Cohen

George Cohen’s death has sparked a flurry of tributes across social media, with a number of former footballers and fans paying their respects for the England legend, including his former teammate Geoff Hurst. The former striker and World Cup hat-trick hero tweeted: “Very sad to hear my friend and England teammate George Cohen has died. 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.”

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Gary Lineker, who made his World Cup debut for England 20 years after Cohen’s triumph, said: “Sorry to hear that George Cohen has died. Another of the heroes of the ‘66 World Cup winning team leaves us. He’ll always have footballing immortality. RIP George.” Meanwhile, former Fulham goalkeeper, David Stockdale, described Cohen as a ‘wonderful man’, while former England forward Tony Cottee expressed his sadness that ‘another of our ‘66 boys have gone’.

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