When Sydney Swans coach and 2005 Australian Sports Coach of the Year Paul Roos placed his hands on the AFL premiership trophy in 2005 it signalled the end of a 72-year drought for the club.
With more than 92,000 fans watching on at the Melbourne Cricket Ground and hundreds of thousands more glued to television screens around the world, this was Roos’ moment of glory.
The former 356-match AFL superstar and Australian Hall of Fame member had just witnessed a nail-biting final quarter in the grand final that saw his beloved Swans come from behind to snatch an historic 58-54 victory over the West Coast Eagles.
The Roos factor in the Swans triumph was generously acknowledged in post-match tributes.
One from Peter Schwab, the former triple Hawthorn premiership player and later the Hawks’ club coach, said it for all. “The greatest strength in Roos’ coaching,” he observed the next day, “appears to be his ability to make a group of players believe that everything is about and for the team”.
In 2006 Roos’ Swans made it to the MCG again on Grand Final Day but were beaten by one point by West Coast. Roos’ true spirit was revealed that day when he accepted the defeat the same way he treated the victory the year before….the mark of a great sportsman.
Following an outstanding career as a player, Roos answered a call to fill the vacant senior coaching position at the Swans midway through the 2002 season.
Full-time assistant coach since 2001, he was subsequently appointed to the club’s senior coaching position for a three year term effective season 2003. Remarkably, he guided the Swans into the play-offs in 2003, his talents acknowledged with his naming as AFL Coach of the Year.
Roos played 87 games for the Swans after joining the Sydney Cricket Ground-headquartered club in 1995 following a star-studded career with the old Fitzroy club – now the Brisbane Lions – including six seasons as captain.
During his career with Fitzroy, he was a member of the Victorian representative team 10 years running, two as captain. He was also named in the All-Australian team on seven occasions, twice as skipper.
An extremely mobile player with expansive marking and kicking skills, Roos was runner-up in the Brownlow Medal – AFL’s highest individual player award – in 1986 after finishing third the year before. He also won the E J Whitten Medal, awarded to the best Victorian player in State of Origin football, in 1985 and 1988.
Since standing down as Swans coach, Roos has taken on the role of coach of the Swans Academy. He has also made his mark as a columnist with New Limited newspapers and as a member of Fox Sports AFL commentary team.