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AFL in mourning as four-time premiership-winning footy legend dies in car crash 4km from his home

Aussie Rules shocked as four-time premiership-winning footy legend dies in car accident just 2.5 miles from home

  • Footy legend Neil Kerley, 88, died Wednesday in a car accident in South Australia
  • Player turned coach, won four premierships, is a respected figure in his home state
  • SA Prime Minister Peter Malinauskas labeled Kerley ‘the epitome of state pride’

Aussie Rules is in mourning after a legend of the sport was killed in a car accident on Wednesday.

Neil Kerley, one of South Australian football’s most influential figures, was driving through a fence in a paddock in Walker Flat in the Murraylands region when he was driving from his home about 2.5 miles away at around 5.30pm.

He was 88.

Born Donald Neil Kerley in Barmera, Riverland in 1934, he was affectionately known as “Knuckles” due to his reputation as one of the SANFL’s leading and strongest players.

On the pitch, he first won a flag with West Adelaide in 1961 before defecting to rivals South Adelaide as captain-coach three years later.

In his first season with the club, he bagged another title and a legend was born.

Aussie Rules is in mourning after legendary player-turned-coach Neil Kerley was killed in a car accident on Wednesday (pictured, playing for his beloved state, South Australia)

Aussie Rules is in mourning after legendary player-turned-coach Neil Kerley was killed in a car accident on Wednesday (pictured, playing for his beloved state, South Australia)

Neil Kerley (pictured with wife Barbara) slammed through a fence in a paddock at Walker Flat in the Murraylands region of SA around 5:30 p.m. Wednesday and died at the scene

Neil Kerley (pictured with wife Barbara) slammed through a fence in a paddock at Walker Flat in the Murraylands region of SA around 5:30 p.m. Wednesday and died at the scene

Kerley also represented his state 32 times before turning his attention to coaching, in charge of 628 seniors.

Kerley sent the Glenelg Tigers to the 1973 flag – an end to a 39-year drought – and a decade later, after returning to West Adelaide, was the mastermind behind the Bloods lifting the 1983 premiership trophy.

For his football achievements, Kerley was inducted into the SA Football Hall of Fame in 2002 and inducted into the South Australian Sport Hall of Fame in 2019.

He also received an Order of Australia Medal in 2007.

After being inducted into the SA Sport Hall of Fame, Kerley said it was a big sensation.

“For a kid from the bush, out of the bush, who didn’t start much and started playing footy for a bit of fun, that’s something I feel really good about,” he said at the time.

SA Prime Minister Peter Malinauskas has paid tribute to Kerley, who he described as 'the epitome of state pride' (photo, police at the scene of Wednesday's crash)

SA Prime Minister Peter Malinauskas has paid tribute to Kerley, who he described as ‘the epitome of state pride’ (photo, police at the scene of Wednesday’s crash)

SA Prime Minister Peter Malinauskas has paid tribute to Kerley, who he described as “the epitome of state pride”.

South Australia has lost an icon. Australia has lost a football legend,’ Mr Malinauskas tweeted on Thursday.

He also revealed that a state funeral is being considered – after consulting with Kerley’s loved ones at the “appropriate time”.

Port Adelaide Football Club labeled Kerley a ‘giant of the game’.

“Neil has always been greatly respected as a fierce opponent of Port Adelaide, both as a player and as a coach,” the AFL club said in a statement.

“He was the ultimate competitor who showed skill and strength during the golden decades of South Australian football.

“Neil promoted the game like no other and his pride in South Australian football was legendary.”

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