Paul Roos (Australian rules footballer)

Paul Roos (born 27 June 1963) is a former Australian rules footballer and senior coach in the Australian Football League (AFL). Roos represented Fitzroy and Sydney during the 1980s and 1990s. Roos was the senior coach of the Sydney Swans and Melbourne Football Club from 2002 to 2010 and 2013 to 2016 respectively.

Paul Roos
Personal information
Full name Paul Roos
Nickname(s) Roosy
Date of birth (1963-06-27) 27 June 1963
Original team(s) Beverley Hills (YJFL)
Height 188 cm (6 ft 2 in)
Weight 88 kg (194 lb)
Position(s) Centre half back
Playing career1
Years Club Games (Goals)
1982–1994 Fitzroy 269 (270)
1995–1998 Sydney 087 0(19)
Total 356 (289)
Representative team honours
Years Team Games (Goals)
Victoria 14 (11)
Coaching career3
Years Club Games (W–L–D)
2002–2010 Sydney 202 (116–84–2)
2014–2016 Melbourne 066 (21–45–0)
Total 268 (137–129-2)
1 Playing statistics correct to the end of 1998.
3 Coaching statistics correct as of 2016.
Career highlights




Sources: AFL Tables,

A versatile key position player, Roos was a strong mark who was excellent at ground level, and in his prime was rated the best footballer in Australia.[1] He was one of Fitzroy's finest players in its final years, and was named at centre half back in Fitzroy's Team of the Century. In his 17 seasons of League football, he was only reported once, for abusive language, and was found not guilty.[2]

Roos was inducted into the Australian Football Hall of Fame in 2005. He has won many accolades throughout his career: he was named All-Australian seven times; received the league's most valuable player (MVP) award; and represented Victoria on 14 occasions in State of Origin. He is also the AFL/VFL record holder for the number of games played wearing the number 1 jumper – which he wore throughout his 356-game career at both Fitzroy and Sydney.

After finishing as a player, Roos went on to become a successful coach at Sydney, guiding the Swans to the 2005 Premiership, their first in 72 seasons.

Early life

Roos grew up in the Melbourne suburb of Donvale and played junior football with Beverley Hills Football Club in Doncaster East. He attended Donvale High School from 1975 until 1981. As Beverley Hills was in Fitzroy's recruiting zone, Roos was selected to play for Fitzroy in their Under 19's team.

Playing career


Roos made his senior VFL debut for Fitzroy in Round 4 of the 1982 season against Sydney, the club he would eventually move to 13 years later. Also making his debut along with Roos was 16-year-old Gary Pert,[3] who became one of Roos' best teammates.[4] In Round 9, he was named at full-forward against St Kilda and kicked seven goals in a 47-point win.

In 1986, Roos polled a career high 16 votes in the Brownlow Medal to finish runner-up. He ended his career with 121 Brownlow votes (98 with Fitzroy and 23 with Sydney).

Roos was appointed captain of Fitzroy in 1988, and led the club in 122 games until 1994.

During his playing career at Fitzroy, Roos was selected as an All-Australian in 1985, 1987, 1988, 1991 (as captain) and 1992 (as captain). He also represented Victoria in State of Origin as captain.

Roos left Fitzroy at the end of 1994 to join Sydney. He cited financial difficulty, the departure of key players (such as Gary Pert to Collingwood) and the club's relocation to the Western Oval as the main reasons for moving to Sydney.[4]


Roos joined Sydney in 1995 on a three-year contract.[4] He finished his career at the Sydney Swans with 87 games and 19 goals in 1998. While Roos was at the Swans, he was one of Sydney's best in the 1996 AFL Grand Final loss to North Melbourne. He again qualified as an All-Australian in 1996 and 1997.

In his playing days, he was often cheered by supporters with a distinctive, deep rolling roar of "ROOOOOOS!".


Playing statistics

 G  Goals  B  Behinds  K  Kicks  H  Handballs  D  Disposals  M  Marks  T  Tackles
Led the league after season and finals
Season Team No. Games G B K H D M T G B K H D M T
Totals Averages (per game)
1982 Fitzroy 1132615663410031N/A2.
1983 Fitzroy 1232219235140375111N/A1.00.810.
1984 Fitzroy 1221010283118401129N/A0.50.512.95.418.25.9N/A
1985 Fitzroy 12231328139467153N/A0.
1986 Fitzroy 12453371158529150N/A0.
1987 Fitzroy 1212917300132432169161.40.814.36.320.68.00.8
1988 Fitzroy 1203021278128406149261.
1989 Fitzroy 120361630876384140191.80.815.43.819.27.01.0
1990 Fitzroy 122493828097377137162.21.712.74.417.16.20.7
1991 Fitzroy 1222118288173461123181.00.813.17.921.05.60.8
1992 Fitzroy 122179388143531149280.80.417.66.524.16.81.3
1993 Fitzroy 116813223141364109280.50.813.98.822.86.81.8
1994 Fitzroy 1221411316207523141330.60.514.49.423.86.41.5
1995 Sydney 121713234187421113140.30.611.18.920.05.40.7
1996 Sydney 12445276204480156240.
1997 Sydney 1216324015839898150.
1998 Sydney 1212417417434882250.
Career 356 289 216 4588 2409 6997 2140 262 0.8 0.6 12.9 6.8 19.7 6.0 1.0

Coaching statistics

 W  Wins  L  Losses  D  Draws  W%  Winning percentage  LP  Ladder position  LT  League teams
Season Team Games W L D W % LP LT
2002 Sydney 1064060.0%1116
2003 Sydney 24159062.5%416
2004 Sydney 241410058.3%616
2005 Sydney 26188069.2%316
2006 Sydney 25169064.0%416
2007 Sydney 231210154.3%716
2008 Sydney 241310156.3%616
2009 Sydney 22814036.4%1216
2010 Sydney 241410058.3%516
2014 Melbourne 22418018.2%1718
2015 Melbourne 22715031.8%1318
2016 Melbourne 221012045.5%1118
Career totals 268 137 129 2 51.5%

Honours and achievements

Brownlow Medal votes
Season Votes
1983 3
1984 6
1985 16
1986 16
1987 10
1988 4
1989 8
1990 3
1991 11
1992 10
1993 5
1994 6
1995 2
1996 14
1997 7
Total 121
Green / Bold = Won
* = joint winner
Red / Italics = Ineligible

Playing honours



Coaching honours



Coaching career

United States

When his career ended, Roos spent some time in the United States and coached the national side to victory over Canada. He is often credited as one of the key people in the success of the fledgling United States Australian Football League, establishing networks with key people in the country.

Sydney Swans

Returning to Australia and the Swans, Roos then became an assistant coach to Rodney Eade. Part-way through the 2002 season, with the Swans' record becoming worse by the week, Eade resigned. The club administration started the search for a new coach and it is widely believed that negotiations with Terry Wallace were at an advanced stage. Nevertheless, when Eade finally went with several games of the minor round still to be played, Roos was appointed caretaker coach for the remainder of the 2002 season, a move hugely popular with Swans fans, who remembered his great contribution to the club as a player.

As caretaker coach, Roos immediately transformed the dispirited Swans players. Several who had struggled under Eade blossomed under his leadership. Surprisingly, the Swans won most of their remaining games that year (six of their last ten), and the fans soon let it be known who they wanted as coach by reviving the famous "Roooos" call. Despite this, the club administration continued their talks with Wallace (and perhaps others). Finally however, they were unable to ignore the players' own support for Roos, when, after a win late in the season, all the players surrounded Roos on the field and, unprecedentedly, themselves joined in the "Roooos" call. The administrators knew when they were beaten, and appointed Roos coach for the 2003 season (despite reportedly having to pay Wallace a considerable amount to unwind their almost-concluded deal with him).

Under Roos' coaching, Sydney participated in every finals series between 2003 and 2008. They made it to the preliminary final stage in 2003, the semi-final stage in 2004, won the Premiership in 2005 and almost retained it in 2006, losing the Grand Final by only one point, and then got eliminated in the first week of the 2007 finals. They made it to the second week of the 2008 finals. But 2009 was the second time under Roos' leadership that they didn't make the finals.

Roos also implemented a policy of giving up first round draft picks in exchange for players from other clubs: namely, Darren Jolly, Ted Richards, Peter Everitt, Martin Mattner, Rhyce Shaw and Shane Mumford in the years 20042009 inclusive.[7] all of whom earned more game-time than they did at their original clubs; this policy paying off for Paul Roos.


In 2005, Roos' coaching style was criticised by AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou, who referred to the Swans' defensive and negative style of play (presumably the tactics of flooding, and retaining possession through short chip kicks). Demetriou even went so far as to claim that the Swans would never win a premiership playing such an unattractive style of football. As a result of Demetriou's criticisms, the Swans were labeled by the media, especially in Melbourne, as the ugly ducklings.

Roos and his Swans were criticised for their game plan in a match against St Kilda in mid-2005. This led to the media, led by Andrew Demetriou and the Network Ten commentary team, led by Stephen Quartermain, Tim Lane and Robert Walls describing their game plan as "disgusting" and "ugly".[8] The Swans misbehaved during the match, and lost the match 15.11 (101) 8.10 (58),[9] a result which proved to be the turning point in the Swans' season, only losing three more matches (by single margins) for the rest of the year. Roos and the Swans would however have the last laugh as they defeated the Saints in the preliminary final with a 15.6 (96) 9.11 (65) win, denying them a shot at their second premiership. Coincidentally, in the Grand Final, they would also kick 8.10 (58), this time defeating the West Coast Eagles which scored 7.12 (54).

Roos proved his critics wrong by leading the Swans to their first premiership in 72 years, with a hard-fought win against the West Coast Eagles in the most thrilling Grand Final for a number of years. Many believe that the AFL's change of rules for the 2006 season was in direct response to the Swans' style of play, but this was later denied by the AFL.


In the 2006 pre-season, Roos briefly returned to the US with his Swans side for an exhibition match against the Kangaroos at UCLA, and suggested that this should become an annual event.

Things became serious when the Swans lost at home to the rampant Adelaide Crows by 39 points, 15.11 (101) to 8.14 (62). Roos cited a lack of hunger and even went so far as to say that his team was "clearly incapable of winning the premiership",[10] but it managed to reach the Grand Final against the West Coast Eagles, losing by one point.


In Round 12, Sydney faced Collingwood, and lost in a game that Roos described as the worst game he had ever coached in his five-year stint at the Swans. He responded by dropping star forward Barry Hall, who had been struggling with injury.

Roos also accused Carlton of tanking to gain a third successive priority draft pick when the Blues lost its final 11 matches of the regular season, most by lopsided margins (which ultimately led to the sacking of his Carlton counterpart Denis Pagan). This included a 62-point pasting from Roos' Swans in Round 15, the penultimate round before Pagan was sacked.


In early 2008 Roos was alleged to have been in the centre of a match-fixing controversy involving wingman Jarrad McVeigh. His alleged instructions to McVeigh was to "go forward, just don't kick a goal" during the final stages of the Swans' NAB Cup match against Hawthorn, which the Swans lost by two points. Roos was cleared of any wrongdoing by the AFL one month later, as it turned out to be a joke regarding McVeigh's poor accuracy during the 2007 AFL season.

He also coached from the bench in the first match of the 2008 season in which his Swans were beaten by St Kilda in a tight match.

In 2008 the Swans made the finals in 6th position and then made a terrific 35 point come-from-behind win against the North Melbourne Kangroos in the elimination final.


2009 turned out to be Roos' worst ever season at the Swans, and the Swans' worst season since 1995, when it failed to make the finals, winning only eight games (five of which came in the first nine rounds of the season) and finishing in 12th position. At the end of the 2009 season Roos announced that he would retire and step down as Sydney coach at the end of the 2010 season.[11]


Roos coached out the 2010 AFL season where the Sydney Swans returned to the finals after last year's absence from the finals. They defeated Carlton by five points in its home elimination final but the following week were eliminated by the Western Bulldogs in the second week of the finals by the same margin. He retired at the end of the season and was replaced by assistant John Longmire in a succession plan. In all he coached 202 games for Sydney, including 16 finals, 9 of which were won.

Melbourne Demons

On 6 September 2013, Roos was appointed senior coach of the Melbourne Football Club on a two-year contract, with the option of a third year.[12][13] On 28 July 2014, Roos signed on for the third year.

He has been accredited for helping the Demons improve their fortunes on the field; the club won four games for the season, doubling their total tally from last season, and its percentage improved from 54.07% in 2013 to 68.04% in 2014.[14] He also delivered on the promise of the club being "the hardest to play against", a pledge originally made by former coach Mark Neeld.[15] However, in Round 21, Roos and the Demons came under fire after suffering a 64-point defeat to an injury-hit Greater Western Sydney side which could only operate a one-man bench in the entire second half.[16]

Media work

After retiring from coaching at AFL level, Roos was appointed head coach of the QBE Sydney Swans Academy, he is the main leader of the academy which has over 300 players. In addition, he had several football-related media roles, including writing for the Herald Sun and doing match day analysis for Fox Footy. He also hosted On the Couch on Fox Footy alongside Gerard Healy and Mike Sheahan between 2011 and 2013. Following his tenure as Melbourne coach, in November 2016 Roos joined radio station Triple M in a special comments role as well as returning to Fox Footy as an expert commentator both positions he retains.[17]

Prior to being appointed as the senior coach of the Melbourne Demons in 2013, Roos was reluctant to coach another club after leaving the Sydney Swans. Despite informal inquiries from other clubs like West Coast,[18] Adelaide,[19] Melbourne,[20] Gold Coast,[21][22] Carlton,[23] and the Brisbane Lions,[24] Roos had repeatedly insisted he has no intention of coaching another AFL club[25][26]

Roos was critical of the substitute rule which was introduced by the AFL in 2011, claiming that the rule, which aimed to lessen injuries resulting from collisions, could have the opposite effect of forcing injured players to stay on the field:

The thing that concerns me the most is you can interchange a guy in the third quarter so he comes off, can't come back on again, and you get an injury in the last quarter of the game and you've got a healthy player sitting on the bench doing nothing and an unhealthy player still in your rotations. That really, really concerns me.[27]

Personal life

Roos married Tami Hardy, a meditation teacher from San Diego, in 1992.[28] They have two sons, Dylan and Tyler.
In 2008 he was named Australian Father of the Year in recognition of his ability to balance the needs of his family with the responsibilities of managing a high-profile sports team.[29]


  1. Holmesby and Main, 2011, p. 739
  2. Schmidt, Lucinda (28 March 2007). "Profile: Paul Roos". Sydney Morning Herald.
  3. Carter, Ron (16 April 1982). "Kink, Barker back: Seven in for first League games". The Age.
  4. Happell, Charles (25 May 1995). "Paul Roos. Soaring with the Swans". The Age.
  5. "AFL Tables - Paul Roos - Stats - Statistics".
  6. "AFL Tables - Paul Roos - Coaching Record".
  7. Swans reap rewards of Moneyball | Fox Sports
  8. Cowley, Michael (13 April 2006). "Roos v Walls: the war of words continues". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 13 September 2019.
  9. Pleasant Sunday afternoon | The Age
  10. "We can't win the flag, says Roos". The Sydney Morning Herald. 10 July 2006.
  11. "Paul Roos".
  12. Roos to coach Dees in 2014
  13. Roos named Melbourne Coach
  14. Melbourne coach Paul Roos says will speed up coaching decision if Demons want, The Age, 22 July 2014
  15. Paul Roos makes Melbourne the hardest team to score against once inside 50, The Age, 16 June 2014
  16. Sub-standard Demons leave coach Paul Roos embarrassed, official website, 17 August 2014
  17. Chris Judd and Paul Roos join Triple M footy line-up for 2017, Radio Today official website, 22 November 2016
  18. "Paul Roos shuts out West Coast coaching suggestion". Herald Sun.
  19. "Adelaide to woo premiership coaches Mick Malthouse and Paul Roos". Herald Sun.
  20. Paul Roos denies links to Melbourne coaching job | Herald Sun
  21. "It's six or out".
  22. Hamilton, Andrew (20 March 2012). "Paul Roos linked to Gold Coast Suns as coach Guy McKenna fights for contract extension". The Courier-Mail.
  23. Stick with Ratts: Walls - Archived 28 August 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  24. Voss has two months to prove his worth: reports -
  25. Seewang, Niall; Guthrie, Ben (31 July 2011). "Media Watch - Roos out for good".
  26. Green, Warwick (3 July 2012). "Paul Roos: I won't coach in 2013". Herald Sun.
  27. Paton, Al (22 March 2011). "Paul Roos slams new substitute rule". Herald Sun.
  28. "Team Roos, secret of the Swans'success success". 24 September 2005.
  29. "Footy dad Paul Roos named Father of the Year". Adelaide Advertiser. 4 September 2008. Retrieved 2 October 2008.


  • Holmesby, Russell; Main, Jim (2011). The Encyclopedia of AFL Footballers: Every AFL/VFL Player Since 1897 (9th ed.). Seaford: Bas Publishing. ISBN 978-1-921496-12-7.
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