Paul Green’s high school sweetheart has shared a heartbreaking tribute to the former rugby league coach after his tragic death rocked the NRL community this week.
The 49-year-old was found dead at his Brisbane home on Thursday morning, the day after his son’s ninth birthday. It has been confirmed he took his own life from him.
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The Courier Mail reports Green called his friend and longtime manager George Mimis at 4.30pm on Wednesday to speak about his son’s birthday celebrations.
The News Corp publication also reports the footy legend’s wife Amanda found him unresponsive at their home after returning from doing pilates at the gym.
Green’s death comes 11 months after he was sacked as head coach of the Maroons following Queensland’s loss in last year’s State of Origin series, which included a 50-6 win for the Blues.
Speaking on Gold Coast’s 92.5 Triple M Breakfast show, radio announcer Ali Plath fought back tears while grieving the loss of her first love.
“My heart is breaking today for his wife Amanda and his beautiful kids and obviously his parents, and his four siblings,” she said.
“Paul and I went to high school together, he was my first love. You only get one first love.
“We were together when I was in Year 12 for a year and then we split up. I had kids with (former partner) Mark and when that didn’t work out, Paul and I got back together.
“We then did nine years of on-off, long-distance, de facto… I guess we were that couple that I think our family and friends were so much happier than we were when we finally split up.
“Paul was a wonderful stepdad to my two older kids Jesse and Jake when we all lived in Sydney together when I finally had the courage to move them.
“For him to swallow his pride and I guess take my kids under his wing, I really didn’t appreciate how big that was at the time. It’s a big responsibility taking on someone else’s family.
“Paul was extremely loyal, he was highly intelligent — even though I used to tell him I was smarter than him. When I was in Year 12, he was two years older than me, and he was getting up for not doing my schoolwork.
“He just had such a great sense of fun as well as being so capable. If Paul said to you, ‘I’m going to be a pilot’, (you knew) he was going to be a pilot. And he did – he was a commercial pilot.
“My mum let him take me to Hervey Bay in this mosquito airplane when he was doing his training. That’s how capable Paul was. You trusted him, you knew he could do it, I never doubted him.
“He was just one of those people who you knew you could rely on. (As an NRL player), he was one of those players you could count on and he would give his all of him.
“I can’t believe that he’s done this, I can’t believe this has happened.
“That’s not Paul. I’m actually in complete and utter shock. I only spoke to him a couple of months ago.
Meanwhile, Green’s family is still coming to terms with the footy legend’s passing and revealed plans for a celebration of his life.
Green’s brother Rick told The Sunday Mail the family had come together to plan a public funeral, expected to be held August 23 or 30 at Kougari Oval, the home of the Wynnum-Manly Seagulls, a team Green both played with and coached to premiership glory.
But Rick also revealed the family was struggling to come to terms with the enormous loss.
“Everyone is feeling overwhelmed,” he told The Sunday Mail.
“There’s certainly a lot of stories that we’re sharing about our times with Paul but as we reflect on those good times, there’s a great sadness at his passing.
“It’s still very raw and difficult to process.”
The family had earlier released a statement after the news broke of Green’s death.
“Today we are devastated,” the statement began.
“We have lost a devoted husband, loving father and wonderful brother and son. We cannot find the words that would come close to expressing our feeling, however we would like to extend our thanks to those who have reached out to us with their love and support.
“Paul was loved by so many and we know that this news will generate immense interest, however at this time we ask for privacy.
“Our family is still trying to understand this tragedy and we request space and time as we come to terms with this loss. Thank you.”