Australian Football Celebrating the history of the great Australian game


Key Facts

Full name
Malcolm Roberto Michael

Known as
Mal Michael

24 June 1977 (age 45)

Place of birth
Papua New Guinea (Port Morseby)

Business consultant

Age at first & last AFL game
First game: 19y 319d
Last game: 31y 68d

Height and weight
Height: 190 cm
Weight: 100 kg

Senior clubs
Collingwood; Brisbane; Australia; Essendon

Jumper numbers
Collingwood: 48
Brisbane: 15
Essendon: 22

Recruited from
Morningside (1997); Collingwood (2001); Brisbane (2007)

State of origin
Papua New Guinea (Port Morseby)

Family links
Robert Michael (Great grandfather)

Mal Michael

ClubLeagueCareer spanGamesGoalsAvgWin %AKIAHBAMKBV

AFL: 10,796th player to appear, 341st most games played, 2,788th most goals kickedCollingwood: 977th player to appear, 297th most games played, 288th most goals kickedBrisbane: 175th player to appear, 36th most games played, 203rd most goals kickedEssendon: 1,066th player to appear, 415th most games played, 563rd most goals kicked

Believed to be the first V/AFL footballer born in Papua New Guinea (PNG), Mal Michael played 238 AFL games with Collingwood, the Brisbane Lions and Essendon between 1997 and 2008. A powerhouse full back for much of his career, he was a key figure in the Lions’ premiership hat-trick of 2001, 2002, and 2003, and such is his standing in the Sunshne state that he was selected in the Queensland Team of the Century.

His father Peter, a former Ormond Amateurs (VAFA) player, was instrumental in developing Australian football in PNG and founded the Bomana Demons Football Club near Sogeri in Port Moresby. Michael moved to Brisbane with his family aged three and later played junior footy with the Kenmore Bears. He was recruited to Morningside in 1994 and the following year was a member of the Panthers' Grand Final team, and also represented the state.

Having done pre-season training with the Brisbane Bears, he was overlooked by his ‘home’ side and was instead snapped up by Collingwood as a 'Supplementary List' player in 1996. In his debut season with the Pies, in which he made history by becoming the first player to be elevated from a rookie list to play senior football, Michael finished eighth in the Best and Fairest and won a Rising Star nomination. In all he played 61 games for Collingwood between 1997 and 2000, and notwithstanding three top ten best and fairest finishes, he was traded to the Lions for Jarrod Molloy and a first-round draft pick.

It proved auspicious timing as the Brisbane Lion juggernaut was just taking off - all that was needed was to plug up a few gaps - and Michael proved the ideal solution at full back. Over the course of the next six seasons, with included three flags and a runners-up placing, the big man in the key defensive position was widely regarded as being one of the best two or three fullbacks in the competition. In that time he played 140 of a possible 145 games, recorded placings in the top ten in the Best and Fairest every year, and represented Australia in the International Rules series in 2004. He was desperately unlucky not to win All-Australian selection. 

He surprised many by announcing his retirement at the end of the 2006 season, but less than two months later confirmed he was making a comeback with Essendon, an about turn that did not please the Lions. Over the next two seasons, and 37 games, with the Bombers he continued to show the consistency that had made him ‘Mr Reliable’ in the last line of defence. At the end of 2008, he hung up the boots again, this time for good.

Since retirement he has been actively involved in coaching, promoting, and otherwise supporting the development of football and footballers in his native Papua New Guinea.

Author - Murray Bird and Peter Blucher, with additional material from Adam Cardosi


* Behinds calculated from the 1965 season on.
+ Score at the end of extra time.