SA footy legend Russell Ebert passes away

SANFL legend Russell Ebert (r) had died after a battle with leukemia.
SANFL legend Russell Ebert (r) had died after a battle with leukemia.

South Australian football legend Russell Ebert has died at the age of 72 after a battle with leukemia.

Ebert, who was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in December last year, passed away at home on Friday surrounded by family.

The former Port Adelaide and North Melbourne midfielder is considered one of the greatest footballer's South Australia has ever produced.

He played 392 games and won three premierships for Port Adelaide in the SANFL.

Ebert was also a four-time Magarey Medallist as the SANFL's best and fairest player.

He played one season for North Melbourne in 1979, helping the VFL club reach the preliminary final.

Just two weeks ago Ebert was elevated to legend status in the South Australian Sport Hall of Fame.

"I'm uncomfortable being elevated above others, but I honestly believe this is about the contribution of my family, the club and community that have contributed along the way," Ebert said at the time.

"These types of awards are for everyone no matter what small or large part they have played and so I thank everyone for their contribution to my journey and in this acknowledgement.

"They all deserve a piece of the acknowledgement for themselves."

Ebert is the father of former Port forward Brett Ebert, and the uncle of former West Coast and Port midfielder Brad Ebert.

AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan paid tribute to Ebert.

"As a young fan of the game in Adelaide, even when watching him as an opposition player, you couldn't help but admire his high marking, his one-touch ball-gathering, his brilliant attacking handball and his exceptional kicking skills on both sides of his body, as he was taking your side apart," McLachlan said.

"All while being an incredibly fair player who relied on his skills while being strong and brave.

"The child in me will always admire the great footballer but the adult that I am is in awe of what Russell Ebert was as a man, and his loss after bravely confronting his illness is devastating for his family, for his club, his many fans and for the state of South Australia, where he has given so much.

"He was everything you would hope to be in a man, and perhaps the best of all of us."


392 games for Port Adelaide, 1968-78 and 1980-85, 294 goals

25 games for North Melbourne, 1979, 15 goals

29 games for South Australia

116 games as coach of Port Adelaide, 1983-87

64 games as coach of Woodville, 1988-90

3 games as coach of South Australia, 1996-98

SANFL Premierships: 1977, 1980, 1981

Magarey Medal winner: 1971, 1974, 1976, 1980

Port Adelaide best and fairest: 1971, 1972, 1974, 1976, 1977, 1981

Port Adelaide captain: 1974-78 and 1983-85

Australian Football Hall of Fame (inaugural 1996 Inductee)

South Australian Football Hall of Fame (inaugural 2002 inductee)

Australian Associated Press