Adelaide AFL club senior assistant coach Dean Bailey has died after a battle with lung cancer.
Bailey, 47, died on Tuesday morning and the club’s players and staff were called to the West Lakes headquarters to learn of the loss.
The former Melbourne head coach was diagnosed with cancer in December.
He was subsequently on indefinite leave as he underwent treatment, but continued to have input in his role as Adelaide’s strategy and innovation coach.
The club paid tribute to Bailey on their website.
The Adelaide Football Club is deeply saddened by the passing of a much loved friend and colleague Dean Bailey http://t.co/D8v6XIiTB4
— Adelaide Crows (@Adelaide_FC) March 10, 2014
Horrible news to hear Dean Bailey has lost his battle with cancer. Our thoughts go out to his friends and family.
— AFL Online (@aflonline) March 10, 2014
Crows CEO Steven Trigg paid glowing tribute to the popular Bailey as a fiercely loyal and caring man, who leaves a lasting impression on everyone at the club and the whole football industry.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Dean’s wife, Caron and children Darcy and Mitchell,” said Trigg.
“Few understood the game of football better than Dean.
“He often told how he gained most pleasure from teaching and helping young men become better players and more importantly, better people.
“Dean’s dry sense of humour also provided many priceless moments.
“His influence stretches far beyond the Adelaide Football Club, given his involvement in the game across three states.”
Bailey’s VFL/AFL career began at Essendon in 1986, after he was recruited from North Ringwood.
He played 53 league games until 1992, and then spent three years with SANFL club Glenelg, where he won the best-and-fairest trophy in 1995.
After three years coaching Queensland club Mt Gravatt, Bailey returned to Essendon as a development coach.
In 2002 he joined Port Adelaide, working under coach Mark Williams as an assistant in the 2004 AFL premiership.
Melbourne appointed Bailey as its senior coach for the 2008 season and he coached the struggling Demons in 85 games before being sacked.
He joined Adelaide in September 2011 as a senior member of rookie head coach Brenton Sanderson’s staff, in charge of strategy and innovation.
Trigg said the club has assembled an expert panel to assist with grief counselling of players, coaches and staff.
Colleagues and footballers took to social media to mourn the coach, including current Melbourne captain Nathan Jones.
Such terrible news about the passing of Dean Bailey. My thoughts go out to his wife and family. A great coach even better bloke. RIP
— Nathan Jones (@nathan2jones) March 10, 2014
Former Port Adelaide great Warren Tredrea paid tribute.
Shocked & saddened by the passing of Dean Bailey. RIP
— Terry Wallace (@thelistmanager) March 10, 2014
@EssendonFC Dean Bailey was a past player and 2000 premiership assistant coach. Great Essendon person from a young age. Vale Bails, mate.
— Robert Shaw (@shawry_analyst) March 10, 2014