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23. Michael Long

PROFILE

Michael Long was one of the most exciting players of the modern era. He had incredible pace, a body made out of elastic and unbelievable skills with both hand and foot. He came to the club in 1989 and immediately made an impact. He was named the Best First Year Player in that year.

The highlight for Long came in the 1993 finals' series. He played brilliant football throughout the finals and capped it off by winning the Norm Smith Medal as best on ground in the Grand Final. Not long after the highlight came the low-light - the following pre-season (1994) he suffered a severe knee injury. It sidelined him for the whole year, a disaster after he had played so well in the '93 finals.

When he made his return in Round 1 1995, all the football world stood up and took notice. He was arguably the best on ground, and he didn't look like a player who had just spent a year out of football.

His form continued throughout 1995 and he polled 16 votes in the Brownlow Medal, the most by any Essendon player. It included five best on ground performances, more than any other player in the competition. He was named co-vice-captain with James Hird in 1996, a just reward for his leadership on and off the field in recent times. However disaster struck again in the centenary re-enactment game against Geelong when his knee collapsed. For one of the best players in the league this was an absolute tragedy. Everyone awaited the second coming of Michael Long in the 1997 season. Unfortunately injury again hit Michael and he only played five games for the season. Michael won the Most Courageous Player award in 1998 after playing in only nine games in a year that started in Round 12 against Adelaide.

He was welcomed back to full-time football in 1999, deputising for James Hird as senior captain and then being appointed as Co-Captain late in the year. After a superb season displaying his exquisite skills he finished 3rd in the Crichton medal. Season 2000 was another highlight of Long's career when he played a significant role in the club's Grand Final victory over Melbourne. Injury again struck in 2001 and he retired at the end of that season.

CAREER STATISTICS

Played 1989-2001
Games 190
Goals 143
EFC Premiership player 1993,2000
Norm Smith Medal 1993
Top 5 Brownlow medal finishes -1995
Top 5 EFC best & fairest finishes 1991,1995,1999
EFC Co Captain 1999
EFC Vice Captain 1996,1998-01
All Australian 1995
Night Premiership appearances - 1990,93
Player honors: 2nd best and fairest 1995; 3rd best and fairest 1999; All-Australian 1995; Norm Smith Medal 1993; premiership sides 1993, 2000; pre-season premiership sides 1990, 1993.
Brownlow Medal: 2000 votes (2); career votes (58).