Essendon Football Club has unveiled a statue of Michael Long in honour of his AFL career and community work.
He has been depicted wearing the club’s distinctive red sash guernsey and holding a walking stick to represent his famous Long Walk.
The champion player sought to put Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island issues on the national agenda by walking from Melbourne to Canberra to meet the prime minister in 2004.
Mr Long, who has struggled with ill health in recent years, was accompanied at the unveiling by his family, club officials and former coach Kevin Sheedy.
“I’d like to thank the club and the Barham family for commissioning the statue, the artist has done an incredible job acknowledging my playing career and walk to Canberra, it’s a surreal moment but something me and my family are very proud of,” Mr Long said.
“Without my football career, I wouldn’t have had a platform to drive change and establish The Long Walk charity.”
Essendon chairman Lindsay Tanner praised Mr Long's community work.
“Michael Long is a champion of our club, and through the power of football he’s become a powerful advocate and role model for his people,” Mr Tanner said.
The Victorian state government has also promised to give The Long Walk charity $300,000 in funding over the next three years for education programs.
“Michael Long is not only a champion of our game and our club – he’s a great Australian,” Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said.
“The Walk the Talk program does wonderful work in Victorian schools promoting reconciliation, and I’m proud to be supporting Michael’s work and legacy.”
As a trail-blazer Indigenous athlete, Long played 190 games for Essendon between 1989 and 2001.
He won the Norm Smith Medal for best on ground in their 1993 grand final win over Carlton.