After nine seasons, two clubs, 60 games, a WAFL premiership, countless opposition forwards put to sleep and an unfortunate amount of injuries, my close mate Alex Silvagni announced his retirement from the AFL on Tuesday.
I can confidently say, however, that no stat accurately measures the impact Alex has had on those at Fremantle, Carlton and anyone fortunate enough to come into his orbit.
It didn’t take long for Alex and I to form a friendship. He struck me firstly with his attitude towards training, his fierce loyalty and ambitious approach to everyday life.
Distance running was never his forte. During the 3km time-trial, he used to get this limp arm and try to drag himself around but come team training his power and repeat sprint ability was impressive. Put simply, you didn’t want to match up on him.
It got to a point where Ross Lyon had his own whistle so SOS didn’t kill anyone at training because he had such high training standards and intensity that he would genuinely prepare as if it was a game, often to the detriment and fear of Fremantle teammates in match play.
I think Ross actually kicked him off the track one day for going too hard. From memory, he nearly took out Chris Mayne when we were going through a period of being extra mindful of injuries so Ross kicked him off the park, which I’m not sure has happened anywhere at any club.
Injuries clearly cut his awesome potential short in the end and it took Luke McPharlin, being the All-Australian defender he was, keeping Alex out of being an absolute lock in the Fremantle side during the club’s most successful era.
Alex will be known as one of the toughest and most resilient players to those who played with and against him. His attitude and work rate towards training was nothing short of elite. His record against Buddy Franklin alone was enough for him to be brought into the side specifically to play against him. I’ve never seen someone play with such a brutal edge and we all walked taller knowing he was out there.
He was always reliable as a teammate and friend, who would do anything for those he cared about… and even for those he didn’t at times.
He approached everything meaningful with a focused intensity that I really admired and it was clear he wanted to be successful at all parts of his life. Evidence of this would be his distinction average MBA coupled with excellent balance and passions outside of footy, specifically relaxing with his dog Molly, being out on the water or playing Call of Duty (with his ‘screening’ tactic).
Having experienced a number of humorous moments on footy trips, Alex is known for sharing a coffee/sparkling water/Kombucha or Coke Zero while fishing out on the boat (although I’ve been dubbed a “liability”), four-wheel driving or cycling around the Swan River.
Any activity was enjoyable knowing Alex was there to chirp others with his quick wit or fix any issue that arose.
He was never one to fuss over his fashion and was known to wear his tracksuit pants with pride around the streets of Fremantle or Melbourne. Fortunately his now lovely wife, Lindsay (who my partner and I actually introduced him to — you’re welcome SOS!), doesn’t mind too much.
They now have a beautiful baby daughter as well. He has a lot to look forward to in retirement with them around.
I love how stable and reliable he is. Be it on or off the field or as a business partner, he’s unequivocally dependable, which gives me a lot of confidence. Alex was also an ambassador for charities such as the Starlight Foundation as well as Lifeline, which shows the well-rounded person he is.
Before his retirement came around, he was expertly mindful of the next stage. I think we’ll read about him more in the Financial Review than we did on the back pages of newspapers.
He’s ambitious and backs it up with hard work so I know he’ll be successful with whatever he does next. He’s almost a cross between Richard Branson and Bear Grylls, with his attitude towards business and also his survival/life skills that millennials tend to lack these days.
I generally don’t like using the phrase, ‘He’s someone you’d want to go to war with’, out of respect for those who actually served but if that’s the ultimate test of an individual, Alex Silvagni is genuinely someone you’d want in the trenches next to you.
SOS would do anything for you and he makes you want to be a better person.