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Avraham "Avi" Cohen (Hebrew: אבי כהן; 14 November 1956 – 29 December 2010)[2] was an Israeli footballer who played as a defender. He was best known for his spells playing for two British clubs:Liverpool in England and Rangers in Scotland.[1] After retirement from active football and management, he was the chairman of the Israel Professional Footballers Association for over five years until he was killed in a motorcycle crash.[4][5] after his death Maccabi Tel Aviv retired the number 5 that he formerly wore.

Avi Cohen
אבי כהן
Avi Cohen.jpg
Avi Cohen, 1990
Personal information
Full name Avraham Cohen
אברהם כהן
Date of birth (1956-11-14)14 November 1956[1]
Place of birth Cairo, Egypt
Date of death 29 December 2010(2010-12-29) (aged 54)[2]
Place of death Tel Aviv, Israel
Playing position Defender
Youth career
1966–1974 Maccabi Tel Aviv
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1974–1979 Maccabi Tel Aviv 134 (10)
1979–1981 Liverpool 18 (1[1])
1981–1987 Maccabi Tel Aviv 158 (4)
1987–1988 Rangers 7 (0)
1988–1990 Maccabi Tel Aviv 40 (1)
1991 Maccabi Netanya 3 (0)
Total 56 (2)
National team
1976–1988 Israel 51 (3[3])
Teams managed
1990–1992 Maccabi Netanya
1992–1993 Beitar Tel Aviv
1993–1994 Maccabi Yavne
1994–1995 Ironi Ashdod
1995–1998 Hapoel Kfar Saba
1998–1999 Hapoel Ashkelon
1999–2000 Hapoel Kfar Saba
2001 Maccabi Herzliya
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only



Cohen was born in Cairo, Egypt, and was Jewish.[6] He moved to Israel as a youngster,[7] and began his playing career with Maccabi Tel Aviv, before joining Liverpool for a fee of £200,000 ($450,000) in July 1979, and became the first Israeli to play in England.[1][4] He struggled to establish himself as a regular at Anfield and was released in November 1981, rejoining Maccabi.[1] On 20 September 1980, Cohen stirred up controversy when he decided to play in Liverpool's away fixture versus Southampton, which fell on the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur. Liverpool drew with Southampton 2–2 in front of 24,085 spectators and Cohen was lambasted by the Israeli media for playing.[8] He returned to the United Kingdom in 1987, when he had a brief spell under former Liverpool teammate Graeme Souness at Rangers,[1] before ending his career with Maccabi Netanya.

He also played for the Israeli national team, making his debut on 19 July 1976 during the 1976 Summer Olympics in a 0–0 draw against Guatemala.[9][10] On 9 October 1984, Cohen scored his first goal against Greece in a 2–2 friendly draw.[11] He was capped 51 times, scoring 3 goals.[3][12] His son, Tamir, is also a professional footballer who plays for Maccabi Haifa in the Israeli Premier League and the Israeli national team.[13]

Personal lifeEdit

Cohen was married to Dorit and the father of three, including the football player Tamir Cohen.[14] In addition, Cohen was the brother-in-law of former football player Vicky Peretz and the uncle of Peretz sons – Adi and Omer Peretz.[15]

In 2008, he participated in the Israeli reality version of Dancing with the Stars and was the fifth to be eliminated.


On 20 December 2010, Cohen was seriously injured in a motorcycle crash. He was taken to Tel Aviv's Ichilov Hospital, where he was immediately taken into surgery. On 28 December 2010, the hospital declared that Cohen was brain dead.[16] His brain death was confirmed by his son Tamir later the same day.[5] Paying tribute to Cohen, Kenny Dalglish said "Avi was a lovely man who will be remembered fondly by everyone at Liverpool who knew him. 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." Ally McCoist said "we knew his situation was bad but never for a second did we think it would come to this" before going on to say it was "so sad to hear that he has passed away."[17]

Liverpool marked the death of Cohen with a period of applause before their Premier League match against Wolverhampton Wanderers on 29 December 2010.[18] The club also played a friendly game against the local Jewish community in honor of Avi. They competed for the Avi Cohen cup. Liverpool FC Legends team won 1-0.

On 24 April 2011, his son Tamir, of Bolton Wanderers, paid a tribute to his late father after scoring the winner against Arsenal and celebrating with a printed T-shirt with his father's face on it.[19]

Career statisticsEdit

International goalsEdit

# Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1. 9 October 1984 Olympic Stadium, Athens, Greece   Greece 2–2 Draw Friendly
2. 8 September 1985 Ramat Gan Stadium, Tel Aviv, Israel   Chinese Taipei 5–0 Win 1986 FIFA World Cup qual.
3. 20 October 1985 Olympic Park, Melbourne, Australia   Australia 1–1 Draw 1986 FIFA World Cup qual.
Correct as of 21 January 2017[20]


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Player Profile: Avi Cohen". Retrieved 26 December 2010.
  2. ^ a b "Israeli soccer giant Avi Cohen dies of injuries after motorcycle crash". Haaretz. 28 December 2010. Retrieved 29 December 2010.
  3. ^ a b He played another 12 games against International Olympic teams and 1 against Amateurs team.
  4. ^ a b "Avi Cohen, first Israeli to play in England, critically hurt in crash". Haaretz. 21 December 2010. Retrieved 28 December 2010.
  5. ^ a b "Ex-Rangers star Avi Cohen dies following motorbike crash". STV. 28 December 2010. Retrieved 28 December 2010.
  6. ^ Avi Cohen obituary | Football | The Guardian
  7. ^ "Israeli soccer icon Avi Cohen declared brain dead"
  8. ^ "Sport on Yom Kippur? Is there such a thing". Yedioth Ahronoth (in Hebrew). 8 October 2008. Retrieved 11 April 2009.
  9. ^ "Cohen Avi". Israel Football Association. Retrieved 30 December 2010.
  10. ^ "Israel – Guatemala". Israel Football Association. Retrieved 30 December 2010.
  11. ^ "Greece – Israel". Israel Football Association. Retrieved 30 December 2010.
  12. ^ "Avi Cohen International Games and Goals". RSSSF. Archived from the original on 5 February 2010. Retrieved 26 December 2010.
  13. ^ "תמיר כהן חתם ל-4 שנים". ONE. 8 August 2011. Retrieved 8 August 2011.
  14. ^ "Soccer's Avi Cohen remains in critical condition". Haaretz. 23 December 2010. Retrieved 28 December 2010.
  15. ^ "Vicky Peretz: Praying for a miracle, everything is in the hand of God". Haaretz (in Hebrew). 23 December 2010. Retrieved 28 December 2010.
  16. ^ "The hospital: Cohen is now in brain death state" (in Hebrew). One. 28 December 2010. Retrieved 28 December 2010.
  17. ^ "Liverpool great Kenny Dalglish leads tributes to former team-mate Avi Cohen". The Daily Telegraph. London. 28 December 2010. Archived from the original on 23 January 2011. Retrieved 28 December 2010.
  18. ^ "Liverpool FC to mark death of former player Avi Cohen". BBC News. 29 December 2010. Archived from the original on 30 December 2010. Retrieved 5 January 2011.
  19. ^ "Bolton 2 - 1 Arsenal". BBC. 24 April 2011. Archived from the original on 25 April 2011. Retrieved 24 April 2011.
  20. ^ Football PLAYER: Avi Cohen
  21. ^ "Israel – Player of the Year". RSSSF. Archived from the original on 8 February 2011. Retrieved 30 December 2010.

External linksEdit