England World Cup winner George Cohen dies aged 83 | UK News
England’s World Cup-winning right-back George Cohen has died aged 83.
The footballer played every minute of England’s World Cup-winning 1966 campaign, including the final against West Germany.
He won 37 caps for England across his footballing career, the entirety of which he spent playing for Fulham.
The club wrote on their website: “Everyone at Fulham Football Club is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of one of our greatest ever players – and gentlemen – George Cohen MBE.”
Fellow World Cup winner Sir Geoff Hurst led tributes, posting in a tweet: “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.”
Grew up a mile from Fulham
Born in Kensington, west London, in 1939, Cohen joined his local side Fulham, whose stadium, Craven Cottage, was just over a mile from his home.
Initially working as a member of the grounds staff, he signed a professional contract in 1956 and made his debut against Liverpool as a 17-year-old in March 1957.
He went on to make 459 appearances for the club, scoring six goals, before retiring at the age of 29 due to a serious knee injury.
In the run-up to the 1966 World Cup, Cohen was battling with Blackpool’s Jimmy Armfield, at the time England’s captain, for a starting spot.
But an injury to Armfield in the lead-up to the competition allowed Cohen to cement his place in Sir Alf Ramsey’s side.
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World Cup glory
Playing in his favoured right-back role, Cohen provided key overlapping runs in an England side that played narrow through the midfield and up to the two forwards.
He started at right-back in the 1966 final against West Germany at Wembley, helping the Three Lions to a 4-2 extra-time victory – England’s only World Cup win.
He played seven more times for England, making his final appearance in November 1967 in a win against Northern Ireland.
‘Best full-back I’ve ever played against’
An attacking right-back with the pace, strength and stamina to get up and down the pitch, Cohen was hailed as “the best full-back I ever played against” by the supremely talented Manchester United winger George Best.
He was awarded an MBE in 2000 alongside Roger Hunt, Alan Ball, Ray Wilson and Nobby Stiles after a campaign to honour the England stars who had not initially received awards for their 1966 heroics.
Cohen’s death means Sir Geoff Hurst and Sir Bobby Charlton are now the only two of England’s 1966 World Cup-winning starting XI still living, alongside squad players George Eastham, Terry Paine and Ian Callaghan.
In 2016, a statue was erected outside Craven Cottage to honour Cohen on the 50th anniversary of England’s World Cup win.
Inscribed below the statue are the words: “Fulham player. World Cup winner. Gentleman.”
Cohen finished his career as Fulham’s fourth-highest appearance-maker, after Johnny Haynes, Eddie Lowe and Les Barrett.
Speaking at the time of the statue’s unveiling, Cohen 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.”
In later life, Cohen, who was awarded the Freedom of Hammersmith and Fulham for his World Cup heroics, campaigned for research into cancer and dementia.
He was a father of two who was married to his wife, Daphne, for more than 60 years.
Cohen was also the uncle of rugby star Ben Cohen, who won the 2003 Rugby World Cup with England.
Paying tribute to Cohen, his club wrote: “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.”