FORMER Southend United winger Mitchell Cole has died, aged 27.

Cole, who was forced to retire from professional football last year due to a rare heart defect, played 37 games for Blues between 2005 and 2007.

The winger was part of the Southend squad that won the League One title in 2006 and was on the bench when Steve Tilson's side beat Manchester United 1-0 in the Carling Cup.