Geelong have described Paul Couch as an “icon” and “a friend,” as tributes flow after the sudden passing of the former Geelong great, following a heart attack on Saturday, aged 51.
Couch played 259 games for the Cats between 1985 and 1997, playing in four grand finals, winning three club best and fairest awards and winning the 1989 Brownlow Medal.
Couch suffered the heart attack while riding his bicycle along the Great Ocean Road on Saturday morning near Apollo Bay.
“Paul Couch was an icon of the Geelong Football Club and a friend to all who knew him,” Geelong CEO Brian Cook said in a statement.
“With a Brownlow Medal, three best and fairests and selection in the club’s team of the century, Paul’s record speaks for itself.
“Paul was a critical player in returning the club to being a regular finals team and was a great big game performer.
“However it was as a fun loving person, husband and father that Paul excelled.
“We pass on our deepest condolences to Paul’s family and friends at this very sad time.
“Paul remained close to many at the club and to his teammates from the 1980s and 1990s. He will be deeply missed by all that knew him.”
The AFL extends its deepest sympathy to the family, friends and former teammates of 1989 Brownlow Medallist Paul Couch. Rest in Peace.
— AFL (@AFL) March 5, 2016
Sad news on the passing of @geelongcats great Paul Couch. Loved watching him go to work in the 80's and 90's. Thoughts are with Couch family
The Brownlow medalists of the 80s always sit together on Brownlow night , won't be the same without good mate Paul Couch RIP no 7
— Dipper (@dipperinc) March 5, 2016
We are deeply saddened by the passing of Brownlow medallist, Paul Couch. A true gentleman who will be missed. pic.twitter.com/j5tisqcz5R
Shattered about Paul Couch. Among my childhood idols. In person always great fun, enthusiastic and generous with his time. So cruel
— Craig Hutchison (@craighutchy) March 5, 2016
— Gerard Whateley (@GerardWhateley) March 5, 2016
Thoughts with family and friends of Warrnambool and Geelong legend Paul Couch.
— Dave Hughes (@DHughesy) March 5, 2016
Vale Paul Couch. Was a great in the art of the "old school" centreman. A joy to watch.
— Daniel Harford (@HarfSerious) March 5, 2016
— Collingwood FC (@CollingwoodFC) March 5, 2016
RIP Paul Couch a beaming friendly smile greeted people .Such a delightful person and a champion player. Thinking of family and friends. Kb
— Kevin Bartlett (@KevinBartlett29) March 5, 2016
What terrible news – Geelong's Paul Couch dead at only 51 after a heart attack this morning. Gone way too soon. One of footy's good guys
— Jon Ralph (@RalphyHeraldSun) March 5, 2016