The former Liverpool defender Avi Cohen, who has died from injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident, aged 54, was the first Israeli footballer to play for an English club in the top division.
Cohen scored one of Liverpool's goals – as well as an own goal at the Kop end – in the decisive 4-1 victory over Aston Villa that won them the League championship in May 1980. Cohen's goal, scored with a low, angled right-foot shot, also had a special relevance as the only one he scored for Liverpool during his two years at Anfield.
Avraham Cohen was born in Cairo. He spent several seasons at the Israeli club Maccabi Tel Aviv before he attracted the interest of the Liverpool manager Bob Paisley. The 6ft 1in leftback joined Liverpool in the summer of 1979 for a fee of £200,000 and made his debut that September. His powers as a defender were perhaps outweighed by his personal charm. "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," said his former team-mate Kenny Dalglish. "He was well liked by all the lads and although he didn't spend a long time at the club, he left his mark." Such was Liverpool's strength in those years, it was difficult for Cohen to find a place in the side.
He caused controversy when he decided to play for Liverpool against Southampton in September 1980 on Yom Kippur, the Jewish day of atonement. The Israeli press gave Cohen a torrid time and, to add to the furore, he gave away a goal in the game with a weak pass.
After 24 appearances for Liverpool, Cohen returned to Maccabi Tel Aviv in 1981. He later spent a season in Glasgow with Rangers (1987-88) under the management of another former Liverpool player, Graeme Souness, and had stints at Sheffield United and Huddersfield Town. He made 64 international appearances for Israel and captained the national side 33 times. After playing for the Israeli team Maccabi Netanya, he became the club's manager and subsequently took charge of other Israeli clubs, including Maccabi Herzliya. He had recently served as the head of the Israeli Football Players' Association.
Cohen's son Tamir is also an Israeli international and plays for Bolton Wanderers. After scoring in the Boxing Day match against West Bromwich Albion, his Bolton clubmate Johan Elmander held up a shirt inscribed: "Get well soon Avi Cohen."
He is survived by his wife and three children.
• Avraham Cohen, footballer and manager, born 14 November 1956; died 29 December 2010
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