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Wayne Carey (born 27 May 1971) is a former Australian rules football player who played for North Adelaide in the SANFL, before joining Australian Football League club North Melbourne in 1989. He also played with the Adelaide Crows. A dual Premiership Captain at North Melbourne, four time club best and fairest and seven time All Australian, Carey, nicknamed "The King", is generally considered to be one of greatest players to have ever played Australian Football. In 2001 he was named as Centre half forward and captain of North Melbourne's Team of the Century and in 2008 Wayne Carey was named as Australian Football's greatest ever player as part of a list of the top 50 players of all time, published in the book 'The Australian Game of Football', which was released by the AFL to celebrate 150 years of Australian Football. In 2009, The Australian nominated Carey as one of the 25 greatest footballers never to win a Brownlow medal.

Carey has received significant media attention for off-field scandals, both as a player and after retirement.

Early years

Carey grew up in Wagga Waggamarker, a city in southern New South Walesmarker regarded as the frontier dividing "Aussie rules" territory with that of rugby league. Carey started playing football at age 8 and, in his early teens, followed his brother Dick to Adelaidemarker, where he attended The Heights School, Modbury Heights and played junior football for North Adelaide.

North Melbourne Kangaroos - pre-captaincy: 1989 – 1992

In 1987, Carey was picked up by North Melbourne after a series of events which would have left the Sydney Swans' recruiting staff slightly red-faced in hindsight. That year, North Melbourne club CEO Greg Miller met with Sydney's football department to discuss the transfer to North Melbourne Football Club of John Longmire, already an established key position player. Once that deal concluded, Miller then enquired about Carey. He made a token offer of $10,000 as transfer fee, to which the Swans surprisingly agreed. As a 16 year old, Carey made the move to Melbourne and played for the North Melbourne under 19s, where he starred in their 1988 premiership side, coached by Denis Pagan. Carey was promoted to the senior list the following year and, after dislocating his left shoulder in a practice match early in the year, made his first appearance for the North Melbourne seniors as an 18 year old in round 11 of 1989 against Fitzroy.


After playing just four games for a mediocre return in his debut year, Carey burst onto the scene in 1990 as a goal kicking Centre Half Forward and perfect support to Full Forward and fellow New South Welshman, John Longmire (who was that year's Coleman Medallist as the league's leading goal kicker). Carey immediately drew the attention of the football world and built a reputation early in his career as an aggressive, big marking and long kicking key position player. That year, Carey would represent New South Walesmarker in State of Origin football and finish the 1990 season as runner up in North Melbourne's best and fairest, behind Longmire. In round 13, a then 19 year old Carey took 8 marks, had 22 disposals and kicked 7 goals in a big win over Sydney. It was the first of many times Carey would dominate up forward for North. In 21 games in 1990 Carey averaged 5 marks, 14 disposals and 1.8 goals.


1991 started very promisingly for Carey and after nine rounds he was averaging 7 marks, 16 disposals and 2.4 goals. In Round 10 against Footscray, Carey started brilliantly, kicking two first quarter goals, before an injury to his right shoulder forced him to sit out the rest of that game and the next eight. He struggled to regain form when he returned for the last 5 rounds.


Early in 1992 Carey considered leaving North Melbourne and returning to Adelaide due to internal unrest within the leadership of the club. He was convinced to stay by the coaching staff and, in the latter half of the season, Carey began to show signs that he was destined for greatness. A best on ground performance for South Australia in their State of Origin win over Victoria was followed by a string of outstanding performances to close the season out. By season's end Carey was dominating Centre Half Forward like no one else in the league, his play trademarked by big marks and long goals. He finished the year with an impressive 7 goal performance against Fitzroy and averaged 10 marks, 20 disposals and 3.3 goals during North Melbourne's last 8 games. For the season, he averaged 7 marks, 18 disposals and 2.2 goals per game. Carey had his first top five finish in the Brownlow Medal, claimed his first club best and fairest and was named club captain by new coach Denis Pagan ahead of the 1993 season.

Captaincy: 1993 – 2001

As captain, Carey led North Melbourne to the finals for eight consecutive years from 1993 to 2000. This streak included seven straight preliminary finals, three Grand Finals and two Premierships (1996 and 1999). During this eight year period, Carey played 170 games, averaged 8 marks and 19 disposals per game and kicked 524 goals at 3.1 per game. He won three further club best and fairests, was a five time club leading goal kicker, All Australian Centre Half Forward seven times, including four times as captain and once as vice-captain, and he was named MVP by the Players' Association twice, in 1995 and 1998.

Carey was criticised widely for both his on and off field behaviour. On the field he was reported three times and suspended twice for a total of five weeks in 1994, and off the field a charge of sexual assault in 1996 put a damper on his otherwise stellar form. Bookies had Carey as pre-count favourite for the Brownlow Medal on four separate occasions (1993, 1995, 1996 and 1998), but many believe his on field arrogance and backchat to umpires were the primary reason he never claimed the game's highest individual honor.


In 1993, at age 21, Carey was the second youngest club captain in VFL/AFL history, and the added responsibility appeared to lift him. Carey consistently won games off his own boot, including a game against reigning premiers the West Coast Eagles at the WACAmarker in round 12, where he cut All Australian and Hall of Fame Centre half back Glen Jakovich to shreds and then against that year's eventual premiers in Essendon in round 15, where he played a dominant final quarter that marked him as an out-and-out champion. Amazingly, after 15 rounds of the 1993 season, with North Melbourne on top of the AFL ladder, Carey was leading the club in marks, disposals and goals, before he was injured in their round 16 clash with Brisbane and did not play again until round 20. At the end of the 1993 Home and Away season, Carey became the first, and so far only, player in VFL/AFL history to average more that 20 disposals and three goals per game over an entire season, averaging 20.5 disposals and 3.6 goals in his 18 regular season games. Carey became the youngest ever All-Australian captain at 22 years of age and finished third in the Brownlow Medal count, after being outright favorite to take out the prestigious award. But for the freakish efforts of Gary Ablett, many experts had Carey as the games best player at the conclusion of the season, and he was runner-up behind Ablett in the Leigh Matthews Trophy as league MVP.


The following year Carey appeared to have improved again. After round 6 of the 1994 season, Carey was averaging 12 marks, 21 disposals and 4.8 goals per game. This included a 17 mark, 26 disposal, 7 goal performance against Hawthorn, 13 marks, 21 disposals and 6 goals against Footscray and a 15 mark, 21 disposal, 5 goal demolition of arch rival, Glen Jakovich and the West Coast Eagles. Carey's mid season suspensions subdued him somewhat, before he turned it on again to dominate in the finals with two of the all time great individual finals performances.

In the Qualifying Final against Hawthorn, Carey kicked the last goal of the final quarter to level the score and force the game into extra time. Carey then kicked the goal to seal the win during extra time and earn North Melbourne a week break before the Preliminary Final. He finished the game with 10 marks, 32 disposals and 4 goals in an inspiring performance. Two weeks later Carey was irrepressible in the Preliminary Final against Geelong. With North down by four goals at half time, it was Carey's four third quarter goals that kept them in the game. He played a lone hand up forward with 14 marks, of which 10 were contested, 24 disposals and 6 goals, to once again have the scores level at full time, before Geelong won by a goal, kicked after the final siren by Gary Ablett. Carey's 10 contested marks in the Preliminary Final were an all time AFL record the time, and his finals performances were made more impressive by the fact that he played both games with a torn calf muscle. For the season Carey averaged 9 marks, 19 disposals and 3.3 goals per game.

No Carey, No North

During the first two years of Carey's captaincy at North Melbourne the Kangaroos registered an impressive 25 wins from the 35 home and away games in which Carey played. In contrast, they lost all but one of the seven games in which he was absent during the same period. Such was the influence that Carey had on games in which he played, and so much did the Kangaroos struggle in his absence that, in mid 1994, the phenomenon was given a name - 'No Carey, no North'.


After leading North Melbourne to the Ansett Cup Premiership in the pre-season, Carey's reputation as the games number one player continued to grow early in 1995. He kicked 18 goals in North's four pre-season games and was the dominant player on the ground on each occasion. By mid season, Carey was an unbackable favorite to take out the Brownlow Medal as he dominated games like none before him. Over nine games, from rounds 6 to 14, Carey averaged 11 marks, 22 disposals and 3.8 goals per game in a brilliant run of form. In round seven, he registered a career high 33 disposals against Fitzroy. His best games of the year, however, came later in the season, both against Premiership contenders Richmond. The first was in a come-from-behind last quarter win in round 19, and then four weeks later in a Qualifying Final win - Carey's third dominant finals game in succession. In both games Carey kicked five goals and had 25 and 22 disposals respectively. The season ended on a sour note for Carey, being well held by Jakovich in the Semi Final and then Full back of the Century Stephen Silvagni in the Preliminary Final, where North Melbourne went down to eventual Premiers Carlton. For the season, Carey averaged 7 marks, 18 disposals and 2.6 goals per game, led the league in marks and contested marks and took out a host of individual awards from the media and Players' Association as the seasons best player.


By 1996 Carey was all but unanimously considered the best player in the AFL. He became known as a master of the pack mark and the long goal. Few players in the game have ever dominated in the air or kicked as many goals from beyond the 50 meter arc as Carey in the 1990s. He again led the league in marks and contested marks and kicked a career high 82 goals in 1996, one of his most consistent seasons. He kicked a career high 11 goals against Melbourne in Round 17 - a game in which he also tallied 15 marks, 31 disposals and 3 tackles - and followed it up in the next game with 27 disposals and 7 goals against Hawthorn. His 12 contested marks in round 17 broke his own record for the most contested marks in a game, which he set two years earlier, and remains a record to this day. North went on to win the 1996 premiership, with Carey again a stand out in all three finals games, including the Grand Final against Sydney, where he was runner-up to Glenn Archer in Norm Smith Medal voting. He averaged 11 marks, 23 disposals and 2.3 goals during the finals and 8 marks, 19 disposals and 3.3 goals for the season. Carey won his third best and fairest award in 1996, but finished runner-up to team mate Corey McKernan in the Players' Association MVP award.


Eight minutes into the second quarter of the 1997 AFL season Carey dislocated his left shoulder for the second time in his career, and missed much of the season. Upon his return in round 13, Carey spent much of the remainder of the Home and Away season at Centre Half Back. There was some concern as to whether he would regain top form as he struggled with mobility through the injured shoulder. As North entered the finals campaign, Carey assumed his customary Centre Half Forward position and re-established himself as the games pre-eminent player in a Qualifying Final against Geelong. In a low scoring game, played in very wet conditions, Carey was dominant with 10 marks and 23 disposals. He also kicked 7 goals and created two others, in of a team total of 11 goals. It was a performance that Mike Sheahan named Carey's best in the book 'The Australian Game of Football', released in 2008.


Prior to round one of the 1998 season, Carey booted six second half goals in the Ansett Cup Grand Final against St Kilda, earning himself the Michael Tuck Medal, as the best on ground in the pre-season Grand Final, and issuing an ominous warning to the rest of the competition that he was over his injury woes of the previous year.

In one of his greatest seasons, Carey hit arguably the best form of his career in 1998 as he led North Melbourne on a club record 11 game winning streak. During the streak he averaged 8 marks, 21 disposals and 4.3 goals per game and registered 20 or more disposals and 5 or more goals on six separate occasions. Coach Denis Pagan designed the team's offence around Carey, instructing other forwards to draw their direct opponents outside the 50 meter arc to make space for Carey, a tactic which became known as "Pagan's Paddock". In round 15, Carey demolished St Kilda with 14 marks, 26 disposals and 6 goals and the following week, five first half goals against West Coast, including one of the goals of the year in the second quarter, saw Glen Jakovich taken to the bench. His form continued the next week when he kicked 8 goals against Melbourne and then in the final three rounds of the season, Fremantle, Adelaide and the Western Bulldogs had no answers to limit his influence and he was completely dominant in each game, kicking 8, 5 and 4 goals respectively and taking contested marks at will, all around the ground. In the first round of the finals, North Melbourne faced Essendon who were treated with similar disregard, as Carey again booted five goals and collected 24 disposals. At that stage Carey had averaged 9 marks, 22 disposals and 5.0 goals over the previous nine games. The winning streak ended on Grand Final day with a loss to Adelaide. For the season, Carey averaged 8 marks, 20 disposals and 3.2 goals per game. He again led the league in marks and contested marks and was runner up in the league goal kicking race behind Tony Lockett, with 80 goals. Carey once again won almost every individual award on offer at season's end, with the noticeable exception of the Brownlow.


Carey missed five games early in 1999 through injury, and spent much of the year in the forward line closer to goals. He averaged a career high 3.8 goals per game for the season, to go with 7 marks and 18 disposals. He helped North to a 15 and 2 record after his return from injury, in another premiership year for the Kangaroos. In round 8, Carey's first game back from injury, he kicked 7 goals against Hawthorn. Once again Carey's late season form was unparalleled, and in the nine games leading up to the Grand Final he averaged 8 marks, 19 disposals and 5.1 goals per game. He kicked 9 goals against Geelong in Round 16, followed it up the next week with a 10 goal, 12 mark and 24 disposal performance in a losing side against Essendon and in the wet in a Qualifying Final against Port Adelaide had 11 marks, 24 disposals and 6 goals in one of his greatest finals performances. Matched up against Carlton's Stephen Silvagni in the Grand Final, Carey played a slightly unfamiliar role. After marking and kicking North Melbourne's opening goal in the first quarter, he struggled to get on top of the Carlton champion and was moved to the midfield after half time. He then gathered the most disposals afield in the third quarter and was the catalyst in a dominant quarter for North, before returning to the forward line in the final term to take a spectacular one handed mark and kick the final goal of the game.


By season 2000, Carey had firmly established himself in the minds of most as the greatest player of the modern era and greatest Centre Half Forward ever to play the game. Stints at Centre half back and in the midfield that year had him notch consecutive 30-plus possession games and add yet another dimension to his game. In an incredible run of form over 6 games between rounds 4 and 10, Carey averaged 12 marks, 27 disposals and 3.5 goals per game, playing in a variety of positions. In round 14 against Brisbane Carey became the only player in league history to record 5 plus goals and 20 plus disposals in a game for the 30th time in his career. Three weeks later in round 17 against Melbourne, he repeated the feat for the 31st time - a record that no other player has yet come close to. Statistically, 2000 was shaping up as one of Carey's best years and, with just two games left of the Home and Away season, he held averages of 9 marks, 20 disposals and 3.2 goals per game. Towards the end of the season however, Carey began to suffer heavily from the debilitating groin condition Osteitis pubis and his mobility and form subsequently slumped going into the finals. For the season he finished with averages of 8 marks, 18 disposals and 3.0 goals. Carey was runner-up in the Leigh Matthews Trophy for the second year in a row and the forth time in his career, this time behind Carlton's Anthony Koutoufides. It was his sixth top two finish in the League's MVP award in eight seasons.


Going into 2001, his 13th season at North Melbourne and 9th as captain, Carey struggled to maintain consistent form as he battled various injuries. The physical nature of his play throughout his career began to take its toll on Carey's body, particularly his back, neck and shoulders and he was not able to string more than 5 games together at any point during the season. In round 21, after playing 14 games and kicking 35 goals that year, Wayne Carey played what would end up being his last game for the North Melbourne Football Club.

Carey vs Jakovich

Throughout much of the 1990s Glen Jakovich was regarded as the premier Center half back in the AFL, and his battles with Carey were a talking point and a season highlight whenever the Eagles and Kangaroos met. Jakovich was one of the very few players who could match Carey for strength in a one-on-one contest and as a result he was often able to limit Carey's dominance. Statistically, Jakovich held Carey to fewer disposals and goals than any other player could consistently manage. They played against each other 16 times, first meeting in round 12 of 1992 and last in round 15 of 2001, with Carey being held to averages of 6 marks, 15 disposals and 2.0 goals per game. These are great statistics for any other Centre half forward, however by comparison, in the 174 games Carey played against all other opponents between their first and last encounter, he averaged 8 marks, 19 disposals and 3.1 goals per game.

Extramarital affair and leaving North Melbourne

In March 2002 Carey had an extramarital affair with then-best-friend North Melbourne stalwart and Vice Captain Anthony Stevens's wife, Kelli. Carey and Stevens were attending a party at team mate Glenn Archer's house. Carey is quoted as saying Kelli followed him into the toilets, in front of a large crowd including her husband. An argument ensued between Carey and Stevens and both subsequently failed to attend football training. In the face of his team being united against him, as well as nationwide condemnation, Carey resigned in disgrace from North Melbourne. Carey's then manager Ricky Nixon famously stated that his client was on "suicide watch" during the aftermath. To avoid media attention Carey fled to Las Vegasmarker. Carey's management later denied speculation that he had trained with the NFL's Dallas Cowboys.

Re-emergence at Adelaide: 2003 – 2004

For some time, it was unclear whether Carey would return to AFL football, but after the end of the 2002 season and a 12 month absence from football, Carey was signed up by the Adelaide Crows, where he played for the next two seasons. While age and injury forced him out of 18 games over the two years and prevented him from dominating as he once did, he still managed to place second in the team's goal kicking both years and put in a number of memorable performances. His best performance in the Adelaide colours came a week before his 33rd birthday, in round 8 of the 2004 season. He took 9 marks, had 17 disposals and kicked 6 goals, out of a team total of 12, in a heavy loss to Essendon. Two weeks later, Carey's fourth goal against Hawthorn was one of the goals of the season. Taking a contested mark on the wing, Carey played on, having three bounces and shrugging of a tackle as he ran inside the forward 50. He gave off a handball to teammate Tyson Edwards, who in turn gave the ball back to Carey deep in the forward pocket. Carey's left foot snap for goal was a highlight in a big win for the Crows.

Two weeks later, in June 2004, Carey was forced to retire with a disc-related neck injury, marking the end of a career that spanned 16 seasons, 272 games, and included 727 goals.

Career statistics

Season Team No. Games Disposals Kicks Handballs Marks Tackles Hit Outs Goals Behinds
1989 North Melbourne 40 4 34 26 8 14 4 2 0 2
1990 North Melbourne 18 21 290 196 94 98 18 8 38 23
1991 North Melbourne 18 14 188 132 56 84 10 8 28 21
1992 North Melbourne 18 21 385 278 107 157 26 16 46 32
1993 North Melbourne 18 19 375 238 137 150 21 19 64 44
1994 North Melbourne 18 19 353 237 116 164 13 3 63 42
1995 North Melbourne 18 25 452 309 143 187 28 10 65 46
1996 North Melbourne 18 25 486 332 154 200 31 10 82 55
1997 North Melbourne 18 14 226 160 66 74 14 4 25 15
1998 North Melbourne 18 25 489 368 121 193 40 14 80 49
1999 North Melbourne 18 20 353 253 100 145 33 7 76 39
2000 North Melbourne 18 23 422 336 86 176 35 16 69 37
2001 North Melbourne 18 14 174 137 37 69 13 4 35 11
2003 Adelaide 2 16 171 136 35 62 21 0 29 19
2004 Adelaide 2 12 127 101 26 57 12 2 27 22
Career Totals 272 4525 3239 1286 1830 319 123 727 457

Best ever player?

Wayne Carey has been named by some media commentators as the greatest footballer to play the game. In 1999, Leigh Matthews, who was voted the greatest player of the 20th century, honoured Carey by saying that he was the best player he'd ever seen. Nathan Buckley, arguably Collingwood's greatest player, and Brisbane great Michael Voss, have both labelled Wayne Carey as the best footballer they've seen. Carey was also named as Australian Football's greatest ever player as part of a list of the top 50 players of all time, published in the book 'The Australian Game of Football' in 2008, and placed third in a similar list put together by a panel of football legends in The Age newspaper the same year.

Post-playing career

In early 2005, Carey agreed to assist former coach and mentor Denis Pagan at the Carlton Football Club, acting voluntarily as a part-time skills coach. In 2006 he was an assistant coach at Collingwood Football Club. Carey also worked as a commentator and host of shows on the Fox Footy Channel throughout the 2006 season. In 2007 he participated in the Nine Network football analysis program Footy Classified, as well as special comments for radio station 3AW's football coverage. Subsequent to his dual arrests for domestic violence and assault he was sacked from both positions.

Scandals, domestic violence, arrests and drug abuse

In 1996 Carey pleaded guilty to indecent assault after grabbing a passing woman's breast on a Melbourne city street after 12 hours of drinking with team mates. He allegedly told her "Why don't you get a bigger pair of tits". Carey later settled out of court when the woman filed a civil suit against him.

In 2000 Carey provided character evidence for his friend Jason Moran, an infamous gangster who was subsequently murdered in Melbourne's gang war.

In 2004, while holidaying with his then wife, Carey was subject to arrest for a misdemeanour battery report while holidaying in Las Vegas. He was placed in custody for one night then released. The local District Attorney elected not to pursue the case

Carey again became the subject of public comment in February 2006 when he announced he was leaving his pregnant wife Sally for model Kate Neilson. His daughter Ella was born six weeks later.

In December 2006 girlfriend Kate Neilson allegedly reported Carey to Australian police for domestic violence, allegeding he had punched her in the face. Neilson and Carey subsequently denied this report. Subsequently US security guard Kyle Banks told the Nine Network's A Current Affair he saw Carey attacking his girlfriend Kate Neilson while working at the exclusive W Hotel in New York City in October 2006. Banks said he saw Carey break a bottle of French champagne over his own head.

On 27 January 2008 Carey was arrested after reports of a disturbance at his Port Melbourne apartment. Police had to subdue Carey with capsicum spray and he was seen hand-cuffed after allegedly assaulting the officers.

Two days later, the Australian Nine Network announced it would not renew the television contract of Carey after it was revealed that Carey had been arrested and charged with assaulting a police officer and his then girlfriend Kate Neilson in Miami, Floridamarker on 27 October 2007, after he allegedly glassed Neilsen in the face and neck with a wine glass. Wayne says the truth about that night in Miamimarker is that they had dinner in the hotel restaurant. But they began arguing which prompted him to leave the table. "I was so angry," he says. "I stood up and threw the wine over Kate, then dropped the glass. At the same time Kate got up and leant forward, and then the glass must have hit her face. I kept walking—-I had no idea I'd cut her. I just went straight up to our room and took two sleeping tablets and within a matter of minutes was dead to the world. The next thing I knew I was woken up in my hotel room by four people I didn't know. I was drunk and I'd taken sleeping tablets. Suddenly the first thing I see is four people I don't know and I'm on the other side of the world. I reacted the same way I'm sure anybody would in that situation." (My drink and drugs shame, page 9, New Idea, March 22, 2008) Police Lieutenant Bill Schwartz, however reported:
When officers went and spoke to him, he immediately was belligerent, starting striking out at the officers, in fact, kicked one of the female officers in the face with his foot, elbowed another one in the side of the face.
They had to wrestle him down and handcuff him.
When he was in the police car, he used his head as a battering ram and tried to smash a hole between the front compartment of the police car and the prisoner compartment.:

To stop Carey harming himself and damaging the car, the officers put him into a leather hobble restraint around his hands and legs.

Carey faced up to fifteen years in jail and $30,000 USD fines. Additionally Carey was fired from commentary jobs at 3AW and the Nine Network following the coverage of the two arrests. Ultimately Carey pled guilty to assaulting and resisting Miami police. In exchange for his guilty pleas, prosecutors agreed that Carey should only serve 50 hours of community service, attend alcohol- and anger-management classes, serve two years probation, and pay $US500 ($720) to a Miami police charity.

As a consequence of his criminal record in the United States, Carey was refused an entry visa in October 2009.

On 16 March 2008 Carey revealed he was, for a long period, addicted to alcohol and cocaine. On March 31, 2008 Carey appeared on interview show Enough Rope, where he talked candidly about his life and recent controversies. 1.5 million viewers tuned into the highly publicized interview.

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