Sir Geoff Hurst led the tributes to his England team-mate George Cohen, winner of the 1966 World Cup, who died aged 83.
Cohen played in every game of the final at home, having joined Sir Alf Ramsey’s side following an injury to regular right-back Jimmy Armfield.
His death means there are only two survivors left in the starting XI for the 4-2 final win over West Germany – Hurst and Sir Bobby Charlton, who suffers from dementia.
Hurst, whose hat-trick in that game proved decisive, wrote on Twitter: “Very sad to hear that my friend and England team-mate George Cohen has passed away.
“Everyone, without exception, has always said that George is a lovely man. He will be sorely missed, my deepest thoughts are with George’s wife Daphne and his family.
England will pay full tribute to Cohen, who won 37 caps for his country in total, in the Euro 2024 qualifier against Ukraine at Wembley on March 26 next year.
Cohen’s death was first announced by Fulham, the club where he spent his entire professional career between 1956 and 1969. His playing days were cut short by a knee injury at the age of 29.
In 2016, the club commissioned a statue of Cohen to mark the 50th anniversary of the 1966 hit.
Cohen said at the time: “I find it absolutely wonderful that they even thought I deserved (a statue). Especially since he was alongside Johnny Haynes, the biggest name in Fulham history.
“Being by his side was pretty amazing. It was great to think that not only the club but also the supporters wanted to put a statue of me there.
Cohen, who got into real estate at the end of his sports career, was diagnosed with bowel cancer at the age of 36 and not given the green light until 1990.
His 1966 England captain, Bobby Moore, died of cancer three years later, and Cohen worked as a patron for the Bobby Moore Fund.
He also raised funds for dementia research, which affected a number of his 1966 teammates. He announced in 2017 that he would donate his brain to scientific research when he died.
Gary Lineker, England’s top scorer in World Cup finals with 10 goals in the 1986 and 1990 tournaments, paid tribute to Cohen.
“Sorry to hear that George Cohen has passed away. Another of the heroes of the 1966 World Cup winning team leaves us,” the BBC football presenter wrote on Twitter.
“He will always have footballing immortality. RIP Georges.
Football Association chairman Debbie Hewitt said: “We are very saddened to hear the news of George Cohen’s death today.
“George has won 37 caps for England and was vice-captain of our World Cup-winning side.
“We would like to send our sincere condolences to George’s family and friends at this sad time.”
Alan Mullery, who played alongside Cohen at Fulham and briefly with England, told Sky Sports News: “He was a supreme athlete, there were very few players that George couldn’t completely overtake – he did half of my up and down stroke on the wing.
“When he tackled people, he hit them hard and was an exceptional right-back.
“Everyone loved George. He was a real gentleman and he became a very smart businessman.
Speaking ahead of the Premier League game against Crystal Palace on Boxing Day, Fulham boss Marco Silva paid tribute to Cohen.
“It’s a huge loss for us as a football club and for English football as well,” Silva said.
“It’s a sad day for all of us and as manager of Fulham I would like to send our deepest condolences to his family and all our thoughts are with his family and friends at this time.
“He is one of the greatest examples in all of this football club, with his incredible number of appearances, they speak for themselves.
“I know what he means to this football club, how important he was, not just when he was playing but also afterwards.
“Our next game will be away from home, but our next one we’re going to do something (as a tribute to him) for sure.”