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Jezza leads Multicultural Team of Champions

Team of Champions Matt Thompson talks to some of the greats in the side
Alex Jesaulenko has been named captain of the Multicultural Team of the Century - ${keywords}
Alex Jesaulenko has been named captain of the Multicultural Team of the Century

THE AFL/VFL's best 22 multicultural players since 1896 have been selected in the first Australia Post Multicultural Team of Champions.

Some of the game's best-known international stars, including three current players and one coach, were announced in the team as part of Multicultural Round celebrations.

A selection panel including AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou, Carlton coach Mick Malthouse and TV commentator Dennis Cometti picked its best 22 players with international ties to have played the game from 1896-2013.

It is a team that possesses sublime skills, dash and daring, with a defence as balanced as any ever assembled, a hard-edged, attacking midfield and a forward line loaded with scoring power. 

To be eligible, players must have either been born overseas or have at least one parent born overseas.

Ukrainian-born Carlton legend Alex Jesaulenko was named as captain while Jock McHale was named as coach.

AFL deputy CEO Gillon McLachlan paid tribute to the various cultures that make up the game at a special event at Crown in Melbourne on Tuesday afternoon.

"Multicultural players have made an enormous contribution to the history of Australia's game and this team importantly celebrates multicultural talent and diversity in the AFL," he said.

"Among the Multicultural Team of Champions are 12 AFL Hall of Fame inductees, three players who have Legend status, and together 44 AFL premierships have been won."

Nick Riewoldt (Germany), Simon Black (New Zealand) and Daniel Kerr (India) were the only current players selected in the team, and John Worsfold (England) the only present-day coach.

The most represented countries were Italy (six selections) and England (four), while Ireland, New Zealand and Greece all had two players in the multicultural 'dream team'.

While the majority of names in the team are familiar fan favourites, two selections on the interchange bench will not be as recognised by many.

The first is Frenchman Allan La Fontaine, who became a Melbourne legend when he captained the club during its hat-trick of premierships from 1939-41.

The elusive midfielder died in 1999, less than a year before being named in the centre in Melbourne's Team of the Century.

Another selection is Charles Henry 'Charlie' Pannan, whose name was shortened from Pannamopoulos after migrating to Australia from Greece.

Pannam became a Collingwood legend after 179 games from 1897 to 1906, but perhaps his greatest link to modern football is as the grandfather of another Collingwood legend, Lou Richards.

The AFL last week selected a squad of 50 nominees for the team, from which the final team was named.

Some notable names to miss the final cut include Brownlow medallists Jason Akermanis and Tony Liberatore and former St Kilda forward Stewart Loewe.

Sixteen of the 22 players selected made their debut on or after 1980, reflecting a greater influence of multicultural talent in the modern game.

Hawthorn legend Robert DiPierdomenico, today named in the final 22, last Thursday picked his best multicultural side on AFL.com.au.

The Australia Post AFL Multicultural Team of Champions:

B:  J. Worsfold (England) S. Silvagni (Italy) M. Scarlett (England)

HB: W. Schwass (New Zealand) G. Jakovich (Croatia) A. Koutoufides (Italy, Greece)

C: R.DiPierdomenico (Italy) I. Stewart (Italy) P. Matera (Italy)

HF: A. Jesaulenko (Ukraine, Russia) N. Riewoldt (Germany) D. Brereton (Ireland)

F: P. Bell (Korea) A. Lynch (England) P. Daicos (Macedonia)

Foll: R. Cazaly (England, Scotland) S. Black (New Zealand) D. Kerr (India)

 I/C: A. LA Fontaine (France) C.H. Pannam (Greece) S. Rocca (Italy) J. Stynes (Ireland)

Coach: Jock McHale 

Captain: Alex Jesaulenko 

Selection panel: AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou, Australia Post managing director and CEO Ahmed Fahour, AFL general manager national and international development Andrew Dillon, Carlton coach Mick Malthouse, Seven Network commentator Dennis Cometti, AFL national talent manager Kevin Sheehan and AFL historian Col Hutchison.