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Wayne Carey

From Academic Kids

Wayne Carey, known as "the King", or more humbly "Duck" for his slightly hunched gait, regarded as one of the greatest Australian Football League players of all time.

Born in 1971 in Wagga Wagga, a rural city in southern New South Wales regarded as the frontier dividing "Aussie rules" territory with that of rugby league, Carey played for North Adelaide in the SANFL before joining North Melbourne in 1989 and quickly rising to prominence, winning his club's best and fairest award in 1992 and awarded the club captaincy by coach Denis Pagan in 1993.

Dominant as a centre half-forward and renowned for his strength, height and fitness (abilities exploited by Pagan who instructed the team to kick long to a forward line left open for Carey), he repeated his best and fairest win four times, was selected in the All-Australian team six times (four times as captain), was his club's leading goalkicker five times, and most importantly, led his financially-struggling club to two premierships in 1996 and 1999.

Despite his widely recognised skill, he is not well-liked by fans of opposing teams, who regard him as arrogant and his tactics as dirty. His tactics have not escaped the umpires' notice, as he has been suspended several times for on-field misbehaviour and never won a Brownlow medal despite seasons where he was widely favoured to do so, nor a Norm Smith Medal despite dominating performances in his grand final appearances. He has never been entirely comfortable with media appearances either, unlike some of his media-savvy contemporaries.

Carey's off-field reputation was clouded after pleading guilty to indecent assault in 1996, following an incident where, after leaving a nightclub, he grabbed a young woman's breast. Other rumours about his boorish behaviour towards women have circulated from time to time.

In March 2002, after 244 games and 671 goals with the Kangaroos, Carey was pressured to resign from the club in sensational circumstances after other senior players reportedly agreed that they were unwilling to continue playing alongside him, after it was revealed that he had an ongoing extramarital affair with the wife of the Roos' vice-captain, Anthony Stevens. The story filled the Melbourne media (and to a lesser extent the Australian national media) for days, with front page after front page of the Herald Sun devoted to the subject, giving some indication of Carey's and football's prominence in that city.

For some time, it was unclear whether Carey would continue playing AFL football again, but by the end of the 2002 season and following a bidding war between several clubs, Carey announced his wish to play for the Adelaide Crows in 2003 and the Kangaroos and Crows eventually negotiated the terms of a deal to allow the exchange to happen.

In June 2004, after 28 games with his new club, Carey retired with a disc-related neck injury. It was a sad way to end a career that spanned 16 seasons, 272 games and included 727 goals. He will forever be remembered as the game's greatest, of the modern era at least.

In early 2005, he agreed to assist former coach and mentor Denis Pagan at the Carlton Football Club, acting voluntarily as a part-time skills coach. He also signed a deal which will see him back in the media spotlight again, this time in a commentary and hosting role with Fox Footy Channel.

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