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George Cohen

The passing of George Cohen was certainly felt by all Fulham supporters and beyond.

We only have 11 World Cup winners and of them – George – was the only one-club man, totting up 450+ games for the Cottagers between 1959 and 1968.

Fulham, in terms of trophies, are not one of the most successful London clubs but we can claim a World Cup winner which Arsenal, Chelsea and Spurs cannot.

George was a fine right back.

He had speed and a cross, albeit often somewhat wayward, but also a remarkable positional sense and a strong tackle.

I never saw him in his prime but I do recall a comeback game – I think it was against Carlisle – in the old Second Division when, to an exultant Cottage crowd, he flew down the wing in his trademark  overlapping run.

He never overcame an injury sustained against Liverpool and could not even take part in his testimonial because of pleurisy.

He did not moan – George was not that sort – even during the three bouts of cancer which he beat, the death of his brother (and father of another World Cup winner rugby player Ben) – and  a reverse in his property business that caused him to sell his World Cup medal to Fulham, where it proudly is exhibited together with his statue.

He was especially close to Alf Ramsey – another fine right back.

He was no admirer of the modern wing-back style – “I don’t mind the attacking, but they give away too much real estate defensively …” he would say.

George mastered all the arts of defending and in an era of excellent right backs, like Jimmy Armfield and Ken Shellito, George was the England regular.

When you talk to his fellow players, the admiration is unconditional but they always would say how hard he could be. When it got nasty against Argentina in the 1966 World Cup quarter final he “did” one of them right in front of the Royal  Box.

No tribute would be complete without a reference to his lovely wife Daphne.

He once said to me “I am only prepared to come back in a second life if I can remarry Daphne”.

He was bubbly, good fun and concerned with no ego.

He might have been one of the unsung heroes of 1966 … but not by us Fulham supporters.