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Costa among seven named AFL life members

Former Geelong president Frank Costa - ${keywords}
Former Geelong president Frank Costa
THE MAN responsible for the rebirth of the Geelong Football Club, Frank Costa, will be honoured for his services to football with induction as an AFL life member later this month. 

Costa will be given life membership at the League's March 17 annual general meeting alongside Simon Goodwin, Darren Milburn, Nathan Eagleton, Mark Harvey, Gareth Andrews and Gerard Healy.

The former Cats president served his club for more than 30 years before his retirement at the end of last season, which included the last 12 years as president and 14 as a director.

He oversaw the dramatic turnaround in the Cats' fortunes that eradicated a debt of $7 million and assembled assets of more than $9 million, and was at the helm when the club won premierships in 2007 and 2009.

Other notable achievements saw the Cats secure two major redevelopments of Skilled Stadium and increase their membership from 19,000 in 1998 to more than 40,000 last year.

Goodwin, Milburn and Eagleton all earned their life memberships last season by reaching 300 games.

Goodwin, a former Adelaide captain and newly-appointed Essendon assistant coach, and Eagleton, who played 277 games for Port Adelaide and the Western Bulldogs, retired last year.

Milburn, 33, is playing on for a 15th season and will commence the Cats' 2011 campaign on 278 matches.

Fremantle coach and three-time Essendon premiership player Harvey will also be honoured after reaching a combined playing and coaching tally of 300 games in the 2010 season.

Games counted in obtaining life membership include home and away, pre-season and state games.

Long-time Geelong board member and former Geelong and Richmond player Gareth Andrews and 1988 Brownlow medallist and media commentator Gerard Healy are also inducted.

Andrews played 177 games for Geelong and Richmond, including the 1974 premiership with the Tigers, and had a leading role in the establishment of the AFL Players' Association as president in 1975.

He also worked in the media from 1979-98 before joining the Cats as a director in 1999.

Healy, who turned 50 on Tuesday, the day his induction was announced, had a stellar playing career with Melbourne and the Sydney Swans that included 211 games, four club best and fairests, five All Australian guernseys, induction to the Australian Football Hall of Fame and selection in the Swans' team of the century.

Since retirement, Healy has been a leading media commentator, served as an All Australian selector from 1991-2010 and as chairman of selectors for the Australian International Rules team from 1998-2006.

AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou said life membership was a just reward for the inductees' efforts in building the game, either on-field as players or for their work off-field.