Cancer forces Irish footie star Jim Stynes to step down as Melbourne Chairman

Dublin native and Australian Rules football legend Jim Stynes has stepped down as Chairman of Melbourne Football Club after he was diagnosed with cancer.

“Three weeks ago I found a lump in my back. The guys thought we should take it out and have a look at it. I found out it was cancerous," Stynes told a press conference when he announced he would be taking the rest of the season off to concentrate on his health.

“I was sent in to do a whole lot of tests and scans. I thought it might just be located in that one spot but it’s not, it’s spread quite a bit and I have a journey to go on I'd say.”

An emotional Stynes asked the press to respect his family's privacy and told journalists that he hoped his two kids would not have to read about his battle with the disease every day.

Stynes was born in Dublin on April 23, 1966 and played Gaelic football for Ballyboden St. Enda’s until he decided to leave Ireland to go down under and take up Aussie Rules football with Melbourne.

Stynes was a natural, and won the Brownlow Medal – the game’s highest individual honor – in 1991 and enjoyed a hugely successful playing career from 1978-98, playing 244 consecutive games in the AFL.

After his playing career wound down he assumed the role of anti-racism officer for the Australian Football League and also played a vital part in the International Rules series between Ireland and Australia, so much so that “The Jim Stynes Medal” is awarded to the best Aussie player every series.

Stynes took over as Chairman of Melbourne Football Club last year, vowing to increase membership and opposing the possible move of the club outside Melbourne.

Not only has he made his mark in football, but Stynes has changed the lives of many children for the better through the Reach Foundation, a nonprofit which he co-founded to inspire young people.

For his charity work he was named Victorian of the Year in 2003 and was awarded an OAM (Order of Australia medal) in 2007.