Irish AFL import Wight dies, aged 47 - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Irish AFL import Wight dies, aged 47

By Roger Vaughan 30/06/2011 04:27:14 PM Comments (0)

Only last month, as Sean Wight was receiving treatment for cancer, he spoke about the many strange twists and turns his life had taken.

He was born in Scotland, moved to England at the age of 10, trialled for soccer club Fulham and wound up playing Gaelic football in Ireland.

Wight and Jim Stynes then became the most famous players in the Irish experiment, where AFL club Melbourne brought out Gaelic footballers in the 1980s to try their hand at the Australian game.

The pair made their lives in Australia after successful AFL careers and, in a bizarre twist of fate, Wight and Stynes also fell ill with cancer in their 40s.

Now Wight is dead, aged just 47.

He was diagnosed with lung cancer only in February.

He had never smoked and kept himself fit after retiring from the game.

Only a few days ago, Wight had briefly attended a function to help raise money for his medical expenses.

Demons' greats Robert Flower and Garry Lyon and AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou paid tribute to Wight, who played 150 games for Melbourne.

"Sean's life was always of the highest integrity," Flower said in a club statement.

"He was honest and tough, both and off the field, and to the last minute of his life."

Lyon spoke of Wight's "wonderful moral compass" and said his former teammate had always conducted himself with the utmost integrity.

Demetriou, who played against Wight, called him "a very formidable opponent".

"In recent times, the whole football community has been touched by the tremendous courage he showed as he battled cancer," Demetriou added.

John Phillip Wight, better known as Sean, arrived in Australia on grand final day in 1982 - the first Gaelic player brought out by the Demons.

Two months earlier, an aunt had shown him an advertisement about playing in Australia.

His only previous exposure to Australian Rules was watching it on television.

Yet within three years, Wight had made his senior debut.

He was a natural with his athleticism and leap, and Wight eventually made the Victorian team.

Wight and Stynes also played in Melbourne's losing 1988 grand final team.

Injuries eventually forced Wight to retire in 1995.

He was a Melbourne club director in 1996-97 and was inducted into their hall of fame in 2008.

"This is a very sad time for Sean's family and the Melbourne Football Club," said Demons' chief executive Cameron Schwab.

"To lose a great champion, a true pioneer and a man of great courage at such a young age is both tragic and a great shock.

"Our love and support go to his mother Peggy and sisters Fiona and Gwen - theirs is the saddest loss."

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