Tributes have poured in for Dublin GAA and Aussie Rules legend Jim Stynes who finally lost his battle with cancer on Tuesday.
The 45-year-old died at home in Melbourne with his wife and two young children Matisse and Tiernan at his side.
A former All-Ireland minor medal winner with Dublin, Stynes is the only non Australian to win the coveted Brownlow Medal in Aussie Rules football.
Stynes had been battling cancer for more than two and a half years after doctors discovered a rare melanoma.
His brave battle, captured in a heart stirring television documentary, has proved inspirational to many fellow cancer victims in Ireland and Australia.
Such was Stynes’ popularity in Australia, his family have been offered a state funeral.
Heartbroken wife Sam issued a Facebook statement to pay tribute to her husband.
She wrote: “Jim was pain free, dignified and peaceful. Matisse and Tiernan were present.
“Not surprisingly, in his last week of life Jim continued to defy the odds and lived his life to the fullest attending the Melbourne vs Hawthorn football match, his son Tiernan’s 7th Birthday celebration, The MFC Blazer Ceremony and a casual Friday night dinner at Toplinos in his much loved suburb St Kilda.
“In his final days Jim was immersed with insurmountable love and tenderness surrounded by his family and some close friends in the comfort of his own home.”
She added: “On behalf of Jim, my heartfelt thanks to all those who have so generously cared for, guided and supported Jim throughout his challenging cancer battle.
“It is an incredibly sad time, however Jim in his passing, has made us see that in our grief that we can smile in our hearts for a beautiful man who will forever hold a special place in the hearts of many. Jim’s lesson is that life was to be challenged and treasured.”
Stynes, whose brother Brian won an All-Ireland medal with Dublin in 1995, underwent brain surgery six times and had many tumors removed.
The Irish Sun reports that American cyclist Lance Armstrong, who has also battled cancer, tweeted: “RIP Jim Stynes. We’ll miss you mate.”
Current Dublin footballer Eamon Fennell said: “Just read about Jim Stynes, very sad to hear of his passing. A real legend & a credit to the GAA and AFL.”
Ireland rugby captain Brian O’Driscoll tweeted: “RIP Jim Stynes. One of the great Irish sportsmen”