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England World Cup winner George Cohen dies

George Cohen
© Fulham FC

Former right-back George Cohen was a vital part of England’s 1966 World Cup-winning squad.

England World Cup winner George Cohen has passed away at the age of 83.

Fulham, the club Cohen spent his entire career at, announced the former right-back’s death on Friday morning.

“Everyone at Fulham Football Club is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of one of our greatest ever players – and gentlemen,” read a club statement.

“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 best full-back I ever played against’

Born in Kensington back in October 1939, Cohen made 459 appearances for Fulham. He initially worked for his hometown club as part of the grounds staff, before taking to the pitch as a 17-year-old against Liverpool in March 1957.

The ex-defender plied his trade at Craven Cottage for 13 years, from 1956 to 1969. Fulham described him as a player ‘blessed with terrific pace’. The club added: ‘He became one of the game’s first attacking full-backs, setting the tone for how football is so often played today.’

Cohen’s club performances earned him his England debut in a 2-1 win over Uruguay at Wembley in May 1964. The Londoner soon become the Three Lions’ starting right-back and featured in all their 1966 World Cup games. He even served as vice-captain for the 4-2 win against West Germany in the final itself.

Manchester United and Northern Ireland legend George Best once described him as ‘the best full-back I ever played against.’

Regrettably, a knee injury forced Cohen into retirement aged 29. He stayed in football as a Fulham and England youth coach, and even had a spell coaching non-league side Tonbridge. Eventually, he moved on to work in the property and building industries.

In 2000, Cohen earned an MBE for his services to football alongside four of his England teammates from 1966: Roger Hunt, Alan Ball, Ray Wilson, and Nobby Stiles.

The World Cup winner was also given the freedom of Hammersmith and Fulham in 2016 for his career achievements and campaigns for more research into cancer and dementia.