George Cohen only won a singular piece of silverware during his thirteen year career though, to be fair, it was a World Cup winners medal, a pinnacle of footballing achievement that has eluded all but twenty-two Englishmen.

His otherwise lack of club glory certainly cannot be put down to any personal shortcomings – Cohen was recently voted by the Cutter as England’s greatest ever right-back, pipping the likes of Jimmy Armfield, Phil Neal, and Gary Neville to the plaudit, all due to his unerring knack of being consistently exemplary in an England jersey.

What prevented this tenacious and dependable defender from garnering a trophy haul that matched his talent was that George spent the entirety of those thirteen years at Craven Cottage. Though blessed with the extraordinary Johnny Haynes Fulham regularly struggled against the threat of relegation in the post-war decades and despite the fact that any number of club giants would have snapped up the rampaging full-back George – true to type and true to the era – valued loyalty above all else.

His playing style was take-no-prisoners in the tackle, unfussy in possession, and an attacking intent that was unusual for the time. As a budding right-back myself as a child I was once compared to him by an elderly games teacher in school. The high – and extremely undeserving – praise was lost on me until later years.

Widely considered the most approachable of the band of brothers who secured immortality on the sun-blazed Wembley turf in July 1966 (and let’s face it they must get sick of talking about a solitary afternoon every day of their lives) this likable Londoner took on his post-football life in exactly the same manner as he took to the field. His opinions are like his challenges – sometimes hard-hitting but always honest and fair – while the bravery he has shown to overcome a lengthy battle with ill-health is entirely in keeping with his dogged determination to pin down the Cliff Joneses and George Bests as they raced to the touchline.

Speaking on behalf of Brother UK, Official Technology Partner of Fulham FC. and in the wake of England’s lacklustre showing in Brazil Lauren Ferguson caught up with one of the Three Lion’s finest to discuss Roy, Barkley, and why playing for your country is a call of duty not a privilege.

Who was your toughest opponent?

Cliff Jones, who means nothing to you but he should do. He was – along with Johnny Haynes – one of the first players to attract a hundred thousand pound bid from an Italian club back in the early sixties. A member of the double-winning side at Tottenham he was an outstanding player, a very quick player indeed who could change feet quickly, had wonderful balance, and was absolutely dynamite in the air. We had some wonderful games together.

What do you most dislike about the modern game?

I don’t dislike it at all. It’s eleven against eleven and there is something to be said for every game. Even if it’s a lousy game there’s something you’ll remember and you’ll come away saying “Didn’t so-and-so play well at right-back” or “Wasn’t the goalkeeper absolutely fantastic”. There is always something that pleases me.

What’s your fondest memories of ’66?

The final whistle. We’d been away a long time and just finished a long season. We went on holiday for a week then came back to Lilleshall where we stayed for about ten days. Then we went on a pre-World Cup tour of Scandinavia and Poland and then played in the World Cup for another two weeks. So we were away for six or seven weeks and I can tell you quite categorically that Nobby Stiles can look quite attractive after that amount of time.

In light of Harry Redkanpp’s recent revelation about certain Spurs players trying to get out of international duty could you ever imagine such a thing happening in your day?

Never. It would never enter their mind. I don’t know of anyone of my contemporaries that would dream of turning down the chance to play for their country. I just cannot understand that. I can only put it down to them thinking “What do I get out of this? Do I want to waste my time?” but if they don’t think its worthwhile turning up for their country there’s nothing you can do about those people.

Perhaps they may look back in their later life and say “I wish I played for England. I wish I’d done something that was bigger than league football”.

What, in your opinion, were the main reasons for England’s early exit from this World Cup?

The inexperience first of all. He (Hodgson) had a lot of young players and the pressure on them to do well was huge: the country always expects. Inexperience was the prime suspect.

Also there’s the actual travelling after a long season and a lot of these guys – especially the Liverpool guys – had a high tension end to their season where they were expected to win the league. Then they’ve got to go to Brazil and turn in performances. It’s very difficult for these young people.

The travel really does take it out of you with the acclimatisation and I think we should have spent another week out there if that were possible.

So with these youngsters – Barkley, Wilshere, Shaw etc – having now gained some experience at the very highest level is there cause for optimism?

Yes there is. I’ve only seen Barkley on the television but I recall a wonderful goal he scored just before the end of the season from about thirty yards which was absolutely brilliant. He showed great foresight in what he was going to do. Shooting is a feeling – you go to the ball and say “I’m going to score from this. I’m going to give this a whack” and approach it absolutely correctly and you hit it. And he does that. He has that feeling.

I think Roy quite rightly didn’t expose him too much but he’s obviously one for the very near future. We’ve got at least eleven of that squad who can go on and perform reasonably well in the next couple of years. We’ve seen what they can do and this was perhaps just one tournament too early for them.

Lastly, I don’t know if you’re a betting man George but who is your money on for this World Cup?

Listen, I could never afford to bet. I was brought up before the big money came into the game (laughs)

Holland are looking particularly useful and I’ll stick with them. Robben’s got the bit between this teeth and he’s fired up for every game he plays. I wouldn’t like to mark him when he’s on fire like he is at the moment.

George Cohen was speaking on behalf of Brother UK, Official Technology Partner of Fulham FC. For more information on Brother products, visit