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The Malaysian Insider :: Sports

Thousands attend Cohen’s funeral in Tel Aviv

Posted: 29 Dec 2010 07:25 PM PST

Tamir Cohen (centre), son of the former Liverpool player Avi Cohen, mourns during a memorial service open to the public at a football stadium near Tel Aviv on December 29, 2010. — Reuters pic

TEL AVIV, Dec 30 — Thousands of mourners joined former Liverpool and Israel defender Avi Cohen's funeral procession yesterday after he died from injuries sustained in a road accident in Tel Aviv last week.

Cohen, who was 54, was thrown from his motorcycle after a collision with a car on December 20. Doctors declared him brain dead on Tuesday. He was kept on a respirator and suffered cardiac arrest early on Wednesday, hospital officials said.

Hundreds filed past Cohen's coffin during a memorial ceremony at the National Stadium in Tel Aviv, the scene of some of his most memorable moments with his boyhood club, Maccabi Tel Aviv.

"It was a big, big shock for us that Avi passed away ... for the family, for the friends and of course for the nation because Avi was the captain of the national team and he was a hero," said the former Israel goalkeeper Bonnie Ginsburg, who, like Cohen, played at Glasgow Rangers.

Ginsburg and other Maccabi Tel Aviv and Israel colleagues carried Cohen's body to its final resting place at a cemetery north of Tel Aviv, where thousands of tearful mourners witnessed the burial.

Cohen became the first Israeli to play in the English top flight when he signed with Liverpool in 1979. He played with the Anfield club for more than two seasons. He made 64 appearances for Israel, 33 as captain.

Liverpool said on their website that players and fans would pay tribute to Cohen by taking part in a "period of applause" before Wednesday night's English Premier League match at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Cohen's son, Tamir Cohen, plays in the Premier League for Bolton Wanderers. — Reuters


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Romantic Leonardo says Inter job is ‘biggest challenge’

Posted: 29 Dec 2010 07:06 PM PST

Inter Milan's new coach Leonardo smiles during an official presentation at the team's training center in Appiano Gentile, northern Milan on December 29, 2010. — Reuters pic

MILAN, Dec 30 — New Inter Milan coach Leonardo, the former AC Milan boss who joined the European champions last week after Rafael Benitez's dismissal, said the job was "a dream" after being welcomed like a rock star yesterday.

"I'm a romantic," Leonardo told his first news conference at Inter's training ground having arrived to wild applause.

"I wasn't looking for work, I was looking for a dream and this is the biggest challenge there is."

The Brazilian left Milan in May after his only season in management following a series of disagreements with owner Silvio Berlusconi.

He has returned to Serie A with Milan's biggest rivals having replaced Benitez but said his acceptance of the role was not the start of a vendetta against the Rossoneri.

"I thank Milan for 13 years together and I will never forget them but now I start a new adventure. I am a free man."

The 41-year-old World Cup winner was a player for Milan before becoming a scout, technical director and coach, making his switch to their bitter rivals all the more surprising.

However, the clubs have often swapped personnel over the years and league leaders Milan have stayed largely quiet on the issue given their hopes of silverware this term rely on former Inter striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Inter are bidding for a sixth straight Serie A title but lie seventh at the mid-season break following an injury crisis and loss of confidence under Benitez.

"I still believe in the scudetto. I know 13 points is a lot but the championship still has a long way to run," added Leonardo, whose first game in charge is the January 6 clash with Napoli at the familiar San Siro.

Inter president Massimo Moratti is prepared for flak from Inter fans if his appointment of a former Milan coach, who only guided the Rossoneri to third last term, backfires.

"I am very happy about this appointment, I have always rated him," Moratti said of a man who speaks five languages.

"Now let him work without pressure but with all the ambition that we must have as champions of the world. He bears a heavy weight on his shoulders, as I do, for the decision the club have taken." — Reuters

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