‘True Australian’: AFL icon remembered

Sam Kekovich has paid tribute to his friend and fellow AFL great Ron Barassi after his death.

The AFL community has been thrown into mourning after Mr Barassi’s death was announced on Saturday by his family.

“After a full and extraordinary life, Ronald Dale Barassi, aged 87, left us today due to complications from a fall,” the family stated.

“He died peacefully, surrounded by loving family.

“We ask for privacy at this time.”

The AFL legend, who was the first player to be inaugurated into the Australian football Hall of Fame as a Legend, was honoured by Mr Kekovich.

“I summed up Barassi with two words that best depict the Australian character – fair dinkum,” Mr Kekovich said about his late friend.

“You wouldn‘t meet a more fair dinkum bloke ever, a true Australian in every conceivable meaning of the word.

“I remember when I first met him he had that, you know, that intangible quality called presence. He wouldn‘t have to say a word but you could feel him there.”

Calling him “the great man”, Mr Kekovich was full of praise for the six-time Premiership player and four-time Premiership coach.

“He was such a humble, gracious, you know, modest person, you couldn‘t believe for all his achievements,” he told the program

“His focus was on the broader picture and others, not himself, it’s almost beyond comprehension.”

In the wake of Mr Barassi’s death, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has offered his family a state funeral to remember him.

“The word legend is used a lot, but nobody deserves it quite like Ron Barassi,” Mr Andrews said on social media.

“He didn’t just play the game – he reshaped it.And how fitting that last night’s game was a cliffhanger between the Dees and the Blues.”

During Saturday’s finals game between Adelaide Power and GWS Giants, players and spectators took a moment of silence to honour the late footballer.

AFL Chief Executive Officer Gillon McLachlan said he was always struck by Barassi’s enthusiasm for the game and its evolution.

“Ron Barassi always wanted to see the next development, the next step and the next achievement for footy, while loving the game and what it took to play at the highest level,” McLachlan said.

“He was fierce, challenging and determined and he loved most of all the next contest for the ball, and watched games with an eye for the skills of the game and the courage and desire to play it well.

“Every time in recent years when we would see him at the MCG watching a match, our game was better for his presence and we have lost a hero of our sport.

“On behalf of our clubs, our players, our fans and the game of Australian football, Ron Barassi has contributed more than an individual could possibly give to our sport and we give our deepest condolences to Cherryl, all members of the Barassi family and their many friends.”

Originally published as ‘True Australian’: Sam Kekovich honours AFL icon Ron Barassi

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