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Key Facts

Full name
Anthony Liberatore

Known as
Tony Liberatore

Born
11 February 1966 (age 56)

Age at first & last AFL game
First game: 20y 130d
Last game: 36y 167d

Height and weight
Height: 163 cm
Weight: 77 kg

Senior clubs
Footscray

Jumper numbers
Footscray: 60, 39

Family links
Tom Liberatore (Son)

Tony Liberatore

ClubLeagueCareer spanGamesGoalsAvgWin %AKIAHBAMKBV
FootscrayV/AFL1986-2002283950.3453%10.479.591.51112
Total1986-2002283950.3453%10.479.591.51112

AFL: 9,724th player to appear, 129th most games played, 1,118th most goals kickedFootscray: 771st player to appear, 9th most games played, 63rd most goals kicked

At just 163 cm and 77 kg Tony Liberatore was one of the smallest men to play top level football in recent years, but he belied his stature with numerous performances of great courage, determination and skill. That said, he did not have things all his own way at the outset of his career: after failing to crack it for a senior game at North Melbourne he crossed to Footscray in 1986 but there too he struggled to make his mark. At North he had won the 1984 Morrish Medal for best and fairest in the VFL's under-19 competition, and in his first three seasons with the Bulldogs he added a couple of Gardiner Medals for best and fairest in the VFL reserves.

It seemed that Liberatore had found his level, an impression reinforced in 1989 when he was selected as captain of Footscray's reserves team. Within 12 months, however, everything had changed: the 1990 season saw 'Libba' not only capture a regular berth in the seniors, but perform with such consistent distinction that he finished the year as a surprise, but eminently worthy, winner of the Brownlow Medal. When he followed this up by winning the 1991 Footscray best and fairest award it was clear that Tony Liberatore had truly 'arrived' as an AFL player.

Between 1986 and 2002 Liberatore played 283 senior games and kicked 95 goals. At times, the indiscriminate nature of some of his negating tactics attracted criticism, but he was well loved at the Western Oval, and throughout the 1990s was one of the most readily identifiable figures in football. After retiring at the end of the 2002 season he was appointed coach of Hawthorn's VFL feeder club, Box Hill, where he had an immediate impact, steering the side as far as the 2003 Grand Final which was lost narrowly to Williamstown. In 2004 he was recruited by Carlton as an assistant coach.

When the Western Bulldogs announced their official 'Team of the Century' in May 2002 Tony Liberatore was selected on the interchange bench.

Author - John Devaney

Sources

Full Points Footy Publications

Footnotes

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