Israeli icon of football declared brain dead

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Israeli icon of football declared brain dead

JERUSALEM - Former Liverpool star Avi Cohen, the first Israeli to play in England, has been in a coma for the past eight days and the 54-year-old has been declared brain dead, his son said on Tuesday.

Speaking to reporters at Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital, Tamir Cohen, himself a midfielder for the Bolton Wanderers, thanked Israelis for their support and prayers since his father went into a coma as a result of head injuries suffered in a Dec. 20 motorcycle accident in Tel Aviv.

“To our regret, the health ministry committee at the hospital has ruled that dad has suffered brain death, which is to say that Dad is dead,” he said. Local media said Cohen’s heart was kept beating artificially.

He has 51 caps for Israel.

The Jerusalem Post quoted hospital officials as saying the family had the options of disconnecting life support equipment, ending other essential treatment and possibly donating his organs or continuing with life support until his heart ceases to function.

Cohen was born in Cairo in 1956 and later immigrated to Israel. He began his career with Maccabi Tel Aviv in 1975 and shortly afterwards was called up to Israel’s national squad.

Cohen made Israeli football history in 1979 when he was signed by Liverpool, the then dominant side in England, but he never established himself as a starter and returned to Israel two years later.

Liverpool great Kenny Dalglish, who played alongside Cohen at Anfield and was on the team when the Israel left-back scored the goal that won the Reds the English title in 1980, paid a handsome tribute.

“Avi was a lovely man who will be remembered fondly by everyone at Liverpool who knew him.

“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,” Dalglish said.

He got a second chance at British football in 1987 when he was signed by Scottish giants Rangers, but again it failed to work out.

After another spell with Maccabi, he retired from playing in 1990 and moved into coaching and sports broadcasting.

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