Avi Cohen dies aged 54

Former soccer star Avi Cohen has died aged 54. He suffered fatal injuries following a motorbike accident earlier in the week.

The ex-defender from Israel was admitted to the Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv after the crash on Monday, according to Haaretz, but was declared brain dead shortly afterwards.

This was confirmed by his son Tamir – who plays for Bolton Wanderers in England – when he told dozens of reporters: “To our regret, a hospital committee confirmed that Father died a brain death. He is essentially dead.”

The family were deliberating whether or not to switch off the star’s life support machine and donate his organs, Haaretz reports, citing Natan Bornstein, director of the neurological department.

“As long as his heart beats the family is still hesitant,” the expert explained. “There are procedures for preserving the patient and the organs. Only the family can decide whether to disconnect the machines and donate his organs.”

Bornstein told the Cohens they had some difficult decisions to make – to disconnect him immediately from life support and donate his organs, or to remove life support only after his heart would stop beating. The family decided to wait for the heart to stop beating. Since then, it has.

Avi Cohen became Liverpool’s first high profile foreign signing in 1979. He made 24 appearances and scored one goal for the club before returning to Israel to play for Maccabi Tel Aviv, USA Today reports. He also played for Scottish club Rangers in 1987-88, and served as captain of the Israeli national team.

His son Tamir has followed in his father’s footsteps and now plays for British Premier League club, Bolton.

Liverpool academy ambassador and former star player Kenny Dalglish was among thousands paying tribute to Cohen around the world and told the Daily Mail:

“Avi was a lovely man who will be remembered fondly by everyone who knew him. He quickly integrated himself into the club when he joined us and spent a lot of time learning English which really made him popular.”

“We lost a dear friend,” said Arieh Alter, director general of the Israel Professional Footballers’ Association. “We feel great pain. It’s inconceivable, and I still haven’t internalized it.”

Former Israel player Eli Ohana said: “We hoped for a miracle, but sadly it never happened. It’s a very sad day, not just for the family but all sports people in Israel.”

Cohen is survived by his wife and three children. His funeral is set for Wednesday, according to USA Today.

Click here to read our coverage about Bronco Denver player Kenny Mckinley who was found dead at home and NFL star Julius Peppers.

Images: James Mughal and elyob on Flikr

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