West Coast Eagles player Liam Ryan was visibly upset as he lined up for a shot on goal during Sunday evening’s AFL match against Collingwood, but bravely went back and slotted it days after the death of his godson.
Ryan was not expected to play against the Magpies after the tragic death of his eight-year-old godson Leslie, who was killed when he was hit by a truck while riding his bike to school in Western Australia last Wednesday.
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After taking a mark in the goalsquare during the final quarter, a visibly upset Ryan had to put the ball down on the ground and compose himself for a moment, before courageously nailing the set shot.
He was swamped by his teammates after the ball went though, wiping his face, kissing his black armband and pointing to the sky to pay tribute to his godson.
“Well it’s been a tragic week for the Ryan family. His eight-year-old godson Leslie lost his life this week. And Ryan kicks the goal that everybody in Perth wanted him to today,” Channel 7 veteran Bruce McAvaney said on commentary for the match.
Fellow commentator Brian Taylor also weighed in on the incredibly moving moment.
“Look at the emotion. He’s in tears. Liam Ryan in tears there,” he noted.
Liam Ryan shares a moment with his family after the game 🙏 pic.twitter.com/8kOwqojKnz— 7AFL (@7AFL) July 26, 2020
“Players are just checking and making sure that he’s OK.
“His teammates showing enormous affection for him there.”
Liam Ryan tribute caps emotional week for West Coast Eagles
Ryan had taken to Instagram earlier in the week to pay tribute to eight-year-old Leslie, who was also the grandson of AFL legend Jim Krakouer.
“My nephew I am lost for words,” he wrote.
“I wish I could tell you I love you one last time, always my boy.”
Ryan’s late goal capped a massive win for the Eagles, who thumped the Magpies 18.3.111 to 6.9.45.
A 1-3 start and discontent at hub life in Queensland seemed a long time ago for Adam Simpson's men, who feasted on the understrength Pies, who lost skipper Scott Pendlebury to injury before the first bounce.
"We were really concerned after the three losses we had, not really with personnel, but our system wasn't (right), and the identity of our side was a little bit off," Simpson said.
"I thought our players really took ownership ... they're playing a pretty distinct brand (now).
"I don't know where we're at in terms of the competition, but I feel like we've caught up a little bit more than anything.
"Now we're ready to compete with anyone."