Former Norwich City trainee Mitchell Cole has died, aged 27.

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Former Norwich City trainee Mitchell Cole has died, aged 27.

Cole was one of the first players to score a competitive goal at the new Wembley stadium, but had been forced to retire as a professional player in February last year owing to a heart attack.

He started out at the Norwich City Centre of Excellence at Potters Bar, and went on to play for Grays Athletic, Southend United, Northampton, Stevenage and Oxford United during a career that travelled up and down the leagues.

Writing on its official Twitter feed, the Football 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, who was married to the sister of England international Joe Cole, 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% 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.

Mr 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 condolences, tweeting: “The PFA is deeply saddened by the loss of 27-year-old Mitchell Cole, our thoughts are with his friends and family.”

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