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Former West Ham youngster dies aged just 27


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Mitchell Cole who was 27 and is best known for scoring one of the goals in the first final to be held at the new Wembley Stadium has died, the Football League has said.

Writing on its official Twitter feed, the League said: "We are sad to hear former Southend, Stevenage and Oxford player Mitchell Cole has passed away. Our thoughts are with his family and friends."

Cole, had been forced to retire as a professional player in February last year owing to a heart attack and was married to the sister of England international Joe Cole He scored for Stevenage against Kidderminster at Wembley in the 2007 FA Trophy Final. He said last year he would be risking death if he were to play again.

In an interview with The Sun he said: "A few players around the world die of this every year. The specialists told me that every day I have a 1 per cent chance of dropping dead and sport quadruples that risk.

"When he gave me the numbers and showed me images of my heart, it hit me hard."

Despite retiring from the professional game last year, Cole did make a handful of non-league appearances, some of which came for Arlesey Town.

However, according to their director of football, Gary King, watching Bolton midfielder Fabrice Muamba suffer a cardiac arrest in an FA Cup tie with Tottenham in March convinced Cole to give up the game for good.

King told Press Association Sport: "We were watching that game in the clubhouse and he turned to me and said 'I'm not playing again', although I'm told he might have been playing five-a-side in London last night."

The PFA joined the Football League in expressing their condolences, tweeting: "The PFA is deeply saddened by the loss of 27-year-old Mitchell Cole, our thoughts are with his friends and family."

Cole had tweeted last night about playing football.

On mitchcole21 he wrote: "London tonight for the usual kick about with the lads!"

Cole suffered from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy which is an irregular thickness of the heart in certain areas.

After being released by West Ham he went on to carve out a career in the lower leagues after establishing himself at Stevenage.

Cole scored the opening goal in the 2007 FA Trophy final as Stevenage won 3-2 and also helped the club secure promotion to the Football League in 2010.

He moved to Oxford where he quit as a professional last year before returning to the non-League game.

Cole's former clubs were among the first to pay tribute, with West Ham posting on their official Twitter feed: "Everyone at West Ham United has been saddened to learn of the death of former Hammers Academy player Mitchell Cole at the age of 27. RIP."

Stevenage added on their official account: "The club are saddened to hear of the passing of former player Mitchell Cole. Our thoughts are with his family at this time."

Former Stevenage boss, Graham Westley, speaking after Preston's FA Cup win over Gillingham today, said his sympathies were with Cole's family and he was himself devestated by the news.

Southend United said they were "extremely saddened" to hear the news, while Oxford United tweeted: "Our thoughts are with the family of Mitchell Cole."

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