West Coast champion Peter Matera is recovering in hospital after suffering a heart attack in Victoria.
The 53-year-old dual Eagles premiership hero, regarded as arguably the greatest West Coast player of all time, was in a Bendigo hospital in a critical condition on Monday afternoon after the medical setback.
Matera’s brother Phil and fellow Eagles champion Guy McKenna are among a contingent set to visit the former wingman in hospital.
Two-time Eagles premiership teammate Brett Heady said the news came as a massive shock and his thoughts were with his close mate.
“It’s deeply upsetting and we’re just hoping that he’s OK,” Heady told The West Australian.
“He’s a fairly young guy and he’s in reasonable shape so it’s a real shock. It’s deeply concerning because he’s such a good mate of ours.
“There’s been a lot of discussion between all of our guys as to what we can do and how we can do it.
“We’ve just got all of our fingers and everything else crossed that’s he’s OK.”
Matera, a South Fremantle product, played 253 games for West Coast and is rated as one of their greatest-ever players.
The wingman won the Norm Smith Medal in the club’s maiden premiership triumph in 1992. He was one of three Matera brothers to represent West Coast, along with older brother Wally and younger brother Phil.
Phil Matera is flying to Victoria today, while former club captain and dual premiership defender Guy McKenna, who’s based in Melbourne, was also going to visit him in hospital.
McKenna said Matera “put West Coast on the map” in the AFL.
“Thoughts and prayers go out to the Matera family after the news of Roo’s condition,” McKenna said.
“West Coast put AFL on the map in WA. Peter Matera put West Coast on the map in the AFL.
“I’m still in awe of his 5.3 from a wing in the ‘92 grand final. Eight shots on goal from a wing in a tight grand final is ridiculous.”
Fellow South Fremantle legend Brad Hardie said Matera required two stents in his heart and described the heart attack as “severe”.
South Fremantle CEO Cameron Britt said the club was saddened by the news about one of their finest exports.
“The South Fremantle Football Club is saddened by the news of former Bulldog and Eagle Peter Matera’s sudden heart attack today in country Victoria,” Britt said. “Peter is a much-loved WA football person, having been drafted to the West Coast Eagles from South Fremantle in 1989.
“Hailing from Wagin, in the heart of the Bulldogs’ Upper Great Southern country region, Matera was a star junior at South Fremantle before making his name as a Norm Smith medallist and dual premiership player in the AFL.
“All at the Bulldogs wish Peter a swift and complete recovery.”
The medical setback continues a torrid year for the health of some of Australia’s sporting greats.
Legendary cricket duo Shane Warne and Rod Marsh passed away within days of one another after suffering heart setbacks, while former WA cricketer Ryan Campbell was hospitalised in the UK after cardiac arrests last month.
More to come