Avi Cohen 311.
(photo credit: Channel 10)
Eight days of hopes and prayers – by Avi Cohen’s family and an entire nation – ended bitterly on Tuesday, with the former Maccabi Tel Aviv and Liverpool defender suffering brain death at Ichilov Hospital.
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A committee from the Ministry of Health came to the sad conclusion after examining Cohen, ending any chance of the 54-year-old recovering from the injuries he suffered in a motorbike accident near the Ramat Gan Diamond Exchange last week.
“Unfortunately, the committee from the Ministry of Health confirmed that dad has suffered brain death, and therefore he has passed away,” said a tearful and distraught Tamir Cohen, Avi’s son and Israel national team and Bolton Wanderers midfielder. “I would like to thank everyone in Israel for all their support.
Now give us time to fully grasp the situation we have found ourselves in.”
For the moment, Cohen is still connected to a ventilator and his heart is still beating. In ordinary circumstances at this stage, a lower-brain-dead patient is disconnected, and his organs may be taken for transplant if permission is obtained.
According to a hospital statement, “in this situation there are three options for the family: the first is to donate organs to save other lives, the second is to disconnect life support, and the third is to end medical treatment except for life support, until the heart stops functioning.”
Cohen, born in Cairo in 1956, is widely regarded as one of the greatest Israeli soccer players of all time.
He began his career at Maccabi Tel Aviv in 1975, where he won the Premier League and State Cup double in the 1976/77 season, as well as another championship in the 1978/79 campaign.
In July 1979, he made a shock move to Liverpool, becoming the first foreign player to represent the team since Robert Rudham arrived 24 years earlier.
Cohen, who joined the Reds for a fee of $450,000, becoming the first Israeli to play for an English team, made 24 appearances for Liverpool, scoring a famous goal in a title clincher against Aston Villa in the 1979/80 season.
Cohen spent a week training with the club under the watchful eye of manager Bob Paisley before being signed and due to Ray Kennedy’s absence, he was given an early debut at Leeds on September 15, 1979.
He played in 14 league matches in 1980/81 and was part of the European Cup winning team, before eventually returning to Maccabi Tel Aviv in November 1981.
“Avile,” as he was often called, returned to Britain in May 1987 playing for former Liverpool skipper Graeme Souness at Glasgow Rangers.
Cohen also made 64 appearances for the Israel national team and in recent years served as the head of Israel’s soccer Players Association.
“Avi was a lovely man who will be remembered fondly by everyone at Liverpool who knew him,” Liverpool legend Kenny Dalglish told the club’s official website.
“He quickly integrated himself into the football club when he joined us and spent a lot of time learning English which really made him popular. He was well liked by all the lads and although he didn’t spend a long time at the club, he certainly left his mark and no one will forget how he helped us win the league against Aston Villa. My thoughts and those of everyone connected to the club are with Avi’s family.”Judy Siegel contributed to this report