Search

Family pay tribute to Islington footballer and Joe Cole’s brother in law who died of heart attack

17:54 12 December 2012

Mitchell with daughter Rhys and son Georgie

Mitchell with daughter Rhys and son Georgie

Archant

Relatives of a former West Ham footballer who died on the same Finsbury pitch he started out on 20 years ago have spoken of their sense of loss.

Mitchell Cole, 27, who scored one of the first competitive goals at the new Wembley Stadium, suffered heart failure at the Finsbury Leisure Centre during a kickabout with friends and family.

A week later his wife Charly – sister of England star Joe Cole – gave birth to their third child Leni Boo, named after Mitchell’s Islington-born and bred grandad.

And his younger brother Ben, who grew up with Mitchell around Old Street, this week paid tribute to him and said the family are staying together in the face of their loss.

He said: “We are coping, but it’s hard. We are trying to be strong for each other. There is no way to put into words how he was. He was a really fun person.”

From the five-a-side pitches at the leisure centre in Norman Street where he started playing aged six, the former Moorfield’s Primary School pupil represented England at schoolboy level alongside Wayne Rooney and regularly turned out for the England C team.

But he was always hampered by hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) a rare heart condition causing thickness of the muscle, which can lead to sudden death.

It forced him to leave West Ham aged 17 and eventually retire from the game altogether last year while playing for Oxford United, after a successful spell with Stevenage.

Ben said: “All the family were there when he scored at Wembley – I was on holiday in Spain but I managed to find somewhere to watch it. We are all so proud of everything he achieved.

“The fans at the clubs he has been at have been really supportive and that makes it easier.

“We used to have a little game on a Friday night, all of the cousins and that. It was a social thing really, not competitive. I was meant to play on November 30, the night he died, but something didn’t feel right so I went out for something to eat with friends.

“The staff at the centre were really good and the ambulance came quickly, but there was nothing anyone could do.”

Recently Mitchell had been giving talks and trying to raise awareness of HCM – triggered by Bolton player Fabrice Muamba’s collapse on the pitch last year.

“He was really passionate about it,” said Ben. “It’s a bigger problem in America so he had been doing work over there.”

He leaves behind wife Charly – who he met while playing at West Ham with her brother – his five-year-old son Georgie and daughters Rhys, seven and newborn Leni Boo, as well as father Tim, brother Tim and sister Carly.

Ben added: “I don’t think it hit Charly until she got home with the kids. But there’s a strong family around her and the children will help her get through.”

0 comments

Latest News Stories

09:29
Dan and Jessica Jacobs have raised more than £12,000 in sponsorship for their London Marathon run

Charitable Islington runners are donning their jogging shorts tomorrow and tackling the London Marathon for a range of good causes.

Yesterday, 15:55
Brian Potter: 'A massive fudge'

Town hall figures ‘a massive fudge’ says campaigner

Yesterday, 12:04
Phone thefts could be on the rise again

A spate of phone snatches in the borough has lead police to re-issue warnings over a crime that has plagued Islington for five years.

Yesterday, 09:08
Prime Minister David Cameron (left) and Mayor of London Boris Johnson with 3 year old Stephanie during a General Election campaign visit to Advantage Children's Day Nursery in Surbiton, Surrey. Photo: Chris Radburn/PA Wire

David Cameron is launching the Conservatives’ first English manifesto, with a promise of changes to ensure that English MPs have the final say on income tax rates in England.

Most read news

Competitions

Spruce up for spring with this beauty bundle from Justmylook!

Looking to update your look for spring? Well, you’re in luck.

Glen Moray whiskey could be winging its way to you.

The Glen Moray Classic is a classic Speyside single malt and forms the starting point for the Classic Range.

Digital Edition

Image
Read the Islington Gazette e-edition today E-edition
Family Notices 24


Our trusted business finder