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NRL legend Paul Green’s incredible footy feats remembered after his tragic death aged 49

Paul Green has built a remarkable career in rugby league – first as a player, then from the coaching box.

The highlights are endless, whether it be winning the Rothmans Medal with Cronulla in 1995, or that unforgettable premiership with North Queensland two decades later.

A married father of two, Green also guided the Cowboys to their first piece of silverware, the Auckland Nines, in February 2014 over arch-rivals the Broncos.

It set the tone in Townsville for the following season, where a field goal from Johnathan Thurston saw the Greens team beat Brisbane again – this time in front of more than 80,000 fans at Sydney’s ANZ Stadium.

The epic match required an extra gold point, with the underdogs winning 17-16 over one of the really big deciders.

Green wasn’t always in the winning locker room — in 1997, when he laced his boots, his only shot at a premiership was denied by a red-hot Broncos team.

Johnathan Thurston of the Cowboys celebrates with coach Paul Green after winning the 2015 NRL Grand Final

Johnathan Thurston of the Cowboys celebrates with coach Paul Green after winning the 2015 NRL Grand Final

Green was close friends with cricketer Andrew Symonds, whose life was cut short in a car accident earlier this year

Green was close friends with cricketer Andrew Symonds, whose life was cut short in a car accident earlier this year

Green was close friends with cricketer Andrew Symonds, whose life was cut short in a car accident earlier this year

A hat-trick from Steve Renouf saw the men of Red Hill win 26-8, in a stacked team that included Darren Lockyer, Allan Langer, Brad Thorn, Shane Webcke and Gorden Tallis.

Two years earlier, Green secured the coveted Rothmans Medal after an outstanding season with the Sharks.

Before playing in the aforementioned competition of the Australian Rugby League (ARL), he was also a standout in Brisbane.

In 1993, while in the Brisbane Easts books, he was the joint winner of the Rothmans Medal along with Steve Mills of the Western Suburbs.

Taking home one of the rugby league’s highest honors in two states – one in just his second year in the first division against the best players in the world – speaks volumes about Green’s net worth.

A fiercely proud Queenslander, Green made his Origin debut during the Super League era – also playing for Australia in 1997.

Paul Green (pictured left) guided the Cowboys to their first piece of silverware, the Auckland Nines in February 2014

Paul Green (pictured left) guided the Cowboys to their first piece of silverware, the Auckland Nines in February 2014

Paul Green (pictured left) guided the Cowboys to their first piece of silverware, the Auckland Nines in February 2014

A fiercely proud Queenslander, Green made his Origin debut during the Super League era and was also featured between 1998 and 2001 (pictured in the 2000 series)

A fiercely proud Queenslander, Green made his Origin debut during the Super League era and was also featured between 1998 and 2001 (pictured in the 2000 series)

A fiercely proud Queenslander, Green made his Origin debut during the Super League era and was also featured between 1998 and 2001 (pictured in the 2000 series)

He went on to score another four appearances for the Maroons from 1998-2001, scoring one try.

Green went on to enjoy NRL stints with the Cowboys, Roosters, Eels and Broncos before hanging up his boots in 2004 – and it wasn’t long before he turned his attention to coaching.

He was employed by the Broncos as a specialist coach until 2008, then took a chance in the Queensland Cup with Wynnum Manly.

Naturally, two premierships followed in 2011 and 2012, with Green then choosing to coach the Sydney Roosters under-20 team and become assistant coach to the NRL side, which won the title in 2013.

The Cowboys came calling the following year and a legacy was created, with a 2015 premiership crowning Green.

Two years later, he nearly won another premiership ring and led the Cowboys from eighth to the big dance.

In 2017, Green almost won another Premiership ring and led the Cowboys from eighth to the big dance - they were beaten by a brilliant Melbourne Storm team

In 2017, Green almost won another Premiership ring and led the Cowboys from eighth to the big dance - they were beaten by a brilliant Melbourne Storm team

In 2017, Green almost won another Premiership ring and led the Cowboys from eighth to the big dance – they were beaten by a brilliant Melbourne Storm team

Known for his toughness, Green often competed against players twice his size (pictured against Bulldogs pivot Braith Anasta in 2001)

Known for his toughness, Green often competed against players twice his size (pictured against Bulldogs pivot Braith Anasta in 2001)

Known for his toughness, Green often competed against players twice his size (pictured against Bulldogs pivot Braith Anasta in 2001)

A champion Melbourne Storm team proved too big an obstacle to overcome, but even getting his team in a position to win minus champion playmaker Thurston was remarkable.

In 2020, he retired as head coach of the Cowboys after 10 games, but as he did all his life, Green bounced back quickly.

He was appointed Queensland coach for the 2021 Origin series – and although the Blues won 2-1, the rapport Green had with his players did not go unnoticed.

Green was tipped to join the Dolphins coaching staff next year when they enter the NRL, but now the Wayne Bennett-led team will never get a chance to experience the football genius that was Paul Green.

As he turns 50 next month, Green leaves behind his wife Amanda and two children, Jed and Emerson.

Vale Paul Green, your contribution to rugby league has been tremendous and you will not be forgotten.

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