Neil Balme announcement stuns AFL world after wife's 'horrible' revelation

AFL fans have sent their well-wishes to the legendary Richmond Tigers figure.

Neil Balme, pictured here at Richmond.
Neil Balme has opened up about his battle with epilepsy. Image: Getty

Iconic Richmond figure Neil Balme has opened up for the first time about his secret battle with epilepsy. Balme, who won two premierships with the Tigers before turning to a career in administration, told 7News on Sunday that he's been suffering epileptic brain seizures for three years.

The 71-year-old, who is regarded as a Richmond legend and still plays a big role in the club's football department, recalled waking up in an ambulance with no idea how he'd got there. “I woke up in the ambulance - I haven’t got a great recall of this - but I woke up and said, ‘Where the F am I?’” Balme said.

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Balme's wife Carmel said she woke up in the middle of the night to the sounds of her husband having a seizure. “This horrible noise like a koala just started happening and I looked to my left and it was Neil clinching his teeth and making the worst noise ever,” she said.

Balme admitted: “I genuinely can’t recall all that stuff. Anything could have happened. It is pretty scary, when you think about it. That’s the problem with epilepsy - I didn’t know anything about it."

Neil Balme.
Neil Balme speaks to the media during a Richmond Tigers press conference in 2019. (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Balme has lost about 20 kilograms since the first seizure. He has suffered two more since the first, but troublingly, doctors don't know what has caused the condition.

AFL world reacts to news about Neil Balme

The 71-year-old has begun working as an ambassador for the Walk For Epilepsy fundraising campaign. He hopes he can help end some of the stigmas around epilepsy.

“I was battling a little bit and even my wife and kids say ‘You were a bit insular, you weren’t yourself for a while’,” he said. “I believe everything you’ve got, you’re better off getting it out there, talking about it - you’re not going to fix it by denying it."

The Epilepsy Foundation of Australia said: "We are proud to announce former Richmond Tigers footy legend and two-time premiership winner Neil Balme as an ambassador for the Epilepsy Foundation." Fans also sent their well-wishes to the Richmond icon on social media.

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