Israeli soccer giant Avi Cohen dies of injuries after motorcycle crash
Avi Cohen, Israel's first international soccer star to play in England's top flight league, passed away in a Tel Aviv hospital Wednesday, after succumbing to injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident last week. He was 54.
Cohen had been riding his motorcycle in Ramat Gan when he was reportedly hit by a car. He was taken to Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv, where he underwent immediate surgery and was placed in intensive care. He had been in a coma since the accident.
Cohen is considered one of the greatest Israeli soccer players of all time. Born in Cairo, he began his career with Maccabi Tel Aviv in 1975. Within a year, he was a regular member of the Israeli national team. He quickly caught the eye of several clubs, including Liverpool, which, at the time, was the dominant force in English soccer.
In 1979, he joined the Reds for a fee of $450,000, becoming the first Israeli to play for an English team.
Cohen's greatest moment in a Liverpool shirt came on September 25, 1979, when he was selected in the starting 11 for his team's game against Aston Villa. The Reds, who were reigning league champions at the time, needed to win a win to retain their title - and things looked to be going according to plan when they took an early lead. Just before half time, however, Cohen scored an own goal to level the score.
But five minutes after the restart, he made amends by scoring his side's second goal. Liverpool went on to win 4-1 and the championship remained on Merseyside.
The next season - his last in England - Cohen was part of the Liverpool squad that won the European Cup, before returning to Maccabi Tel Aviv.
After a brief period in Scotland, where he played 15 games for the Glasgow Rangers, Cohen returned to Maccabi for a third spell, before retiring as a player in 1990. He has since coached six teams and, for the past five years, been chairman of the Israel Professional Footballers Association.
Cohen's son, Tamir Cohen, is a midfielder for the Bolton Wanderers in northern England. He flew back to Israel after the accident to be by his father's bedside.
Dozens of Liverpool fans paid tribute to Cohen on the club's website, many of them recalling his two-goal performance in September 1979. "YNWA," many of the tributes read, quoting Liverpool's famous anthem, You'll Never Walk Alone.
The sad news about the former Reds defender was broken by his son Tamir in Israel and followed a serious motorcycle accident last week.
"Avi was a lovely man who will be remembered fondly by everyone at Liverpool who knew him," Dalglish told the 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."
A left-back, Avi joined the club in 1979 and made 24 appearances, scoring a famous goal in a title clincher against Aston Villa.
To give him his full title, Abraham "Avi" Cohen was the first foreign player to represent Liverpool since Robert Rudham arrived 24 years earlier.
The Reds received glowing reports about the player and, at Liverpool's invitation, Cohen spent a week training with the club under the watchful eye of manager Bob Paisley.
Due to Ray Kennedy's absence, he was given an early debut at Leeds on September 15, 1979.
Avi played in 14 league matches the following season (1980-81), before he eventually returned to his homeland in November 1981.
He returned to Britain in May 1987 playing for former Liverpool skipper Graeme Souness at Rangers.
Liverpool Football Club would like to offer its condolences to Avi's family at this difficult time.
Source. This was published yesterday after Avi was declared brain dead but still didn't die.