Powerhouse fullback and member of the Queensland Team of the Century, he played 238 AFL games with Collingwood, the Brisbane Lions and Essendon from 1997-2008 was a key figure in the Lions’ premiership hat-trick of 2001-02-03. He will always hold pride of place on the AFL trivia list – he was the first player ever to be elevated from a rookie list toplay senior football, and was the man on the mark when Tony Lockett kicked his recordbreaking 1300
Born in Papua New Guinea, he moved to Brisbane with his family aged three and played with the Kenmore Bears. He was recruited to Morningside in 1994 and in ‘95 he represented Queensland and was a member of the Panthers’ grand final team as an 18-year-old. Having done off-season training with the Brisbane Bears, he was overlooked by his ‘home’ side and instead was snapped up by Collingwood as a Supplementary List player in 1996. In his first season, in which he became the first PNG AFL player, he finished eighth in the B&F and won a Rising Star nomination.
He played 61 games with the ‘Pies from 1997-2000, with three top 10 B&F finishes, before being traded to the Lions for Jarrod Molloy and a first-round draft pick in 2001. It proved a golden move as he enjoyed a role in Brisbane’s triple premiership success and also played in the losing 2004 grand final. In six years with the Lions he played 140 of a possible 145 games, finished top 10 in the B&F every year and represented Australia in the International Rules series in 2004. He was widely regarded as being one of the best two or three fullbacks in the competition, and was desperately unlucky not to win All-Australian selection.
He surprised many by announcing his retirement at the end of the ’06 season, but 50 days later he confirmed a comeback with Essendon. Played 37 games with the Bombers in 2007- 08 before hanging up the boots for the last time. In early ’06 he established the Mal Michael Foundation in 2006 and is working to raise funds for prospective AFL players in PNG.