'We're devastated': Aussie Rules rocked by legend's death at 59

Mark Naley, pictured here playing for Carlton in the 1980s.
Mark Naley has died at the age of 59. Image: AFL/Twitter

The Australian football community is mourning the death of South Australian legend Mark Naley.

The South Australian Football Hall of Fame Inductee and Player Life Member died at 59 after a long battle with brain cancer.

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Naley played 65 games for Carlton in the AFL, featuring in the 1987 grand final.

But it was his work in the SANFL that he will be best remembered for, playing 236 games and kicking 231 goals for South Adelaide.

He also played 16 games for the state and was an all-Australian in 1986 and 1987.

In 1991 he won the Magarey Medal for the best and fairest player in the SANFL, and was runner-up for the award twice.

“Mark has left an enormous impact on the South Adelaide Football Club, where he captured a generation of fans in the 1980s, and gave the South Adelaide faithful plenty to be excited about,” CEO Neill Sharpe said in a statement.

“He was such a humble champion of the game and maintained a great connection to the Club following his playing day.

“Over the last few years, while battling with his health, he‘d still get to South Adelaide games and happily sit on the outer or even have a kick of the footy as he did last year at Alberton with son Sam and grandson Finn.

“He is one of the greats of South Adelaide and will be sorely missed.”

Tributes flow after death of Mark Naley

The SANFL website also paid tribute to Naley’s courageous battle, writing: “Since diagnosis in 2016, Mark’s fought a courageous battle against brain cancer, displaying a tremendously positive spirit.

“SANFL expresses its deepest sympathies to Mark’s wife Cassie and family while honouring his outstanding contribution to the game in South Australia.”

Naley previously opened up about being diagnosed with cancer in 2016 after he had a seizure while driving.

“I had a seizure, which started it,” Naley told Carlton Media.

“At the time I was turning into a street, saw the street sign and that was it.

“The next thing I remember was waking up in hospital an hour and a half later.”

Tributes are also flooding social media.