The great and the good of Australian life have paid tribute to Dublin native Jim Stynes who lost his battle with cancer on Monday.
Stynes left Dublin aged 17 back in 1984 to become an Aussie Rules footballer and went on to become one of the top players of his generation. He became the first foreign player to win the Brownlow medal (Aussie Rules’ highest individual honour) back in 1991. He was also an Order of Australia recipient and a Victorian and Melburnian of the year.
He was diagnosed with cancer two-and-a-half years ago and had more than 20 tumours removed from his brain in that time. Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard was one of the first to offer public condolence to Stynes’ family: “He showed such bravery in the face of his devastating illness, he’s shown courage to the Australian people. He will be very sorely missed,” Ms Gillard said.
Seven-times Tour De France Lance Armstrong and cricketer Shane Warne also paid tribute to the 45 year-old, describing him as an ”inspiring man.”
Stynes stepped down as chairman of his club; Melbourne FC last month. In a statement, Melbourne FC president Don McLardy said: “You will hear from many whose lives have been changed by Jim, mainly through contact with his incredible youth organisation Reach. Not just great achievers such as Jules Lund, Trisha Silvers and the like, but hundreds of young kids who openly say Jim Stynes ‘changed my life’. Can there be a greater accolade than that?’’
Stynes is survived by his wife Sam and children Matisse (12) and Tiernan (7) who were at his bedside when he died ”pain-free, dignified and peaceful.”