THE AFL has paid tribute to the life of Albert Mantello, who passed away earlier this week (Sunday, September 26) at the age of 87.
Mantello was one of the leading administrative figures of the game during the 1970s-80s, after a 107-game career for North Melbourne in which he captained the club.
Serving firstly as both a Vice-President and President of North Melbourne for more than a decade following his playing days, he was instrumental in the move of Ron Barassi to the Kangaroos, which delivered the club its first two premierships in 1975 and 1977.
In the early days of the formation of the VFL commission, Mantello was then pivotal in the development of the national competition, serving on the AFL commission for five years from 1988-1992.
AFL Chief Executive Gillon McLachlan said Mantello would be remembered as a person who was central to Australian Football being able to build its position today as a truly national game, beyond its previous heartlands in the southern and western states.
"The first commissioners in those early years had the huge task of working towards the greater success long-term for our sport and seeing new opportunities and expanding our horizons," Mr McLachlan said.
"Albert Mantello had been an innovator at North Melbourne after his time as a player, being instrumental in the club's first two flags, and his time as a Commissioner saw key moves including the development of the national draft and the salary cap, the name change to the AFL, the redevelopment of the Southern Stand at the MCG to service AFL members, the introduction of the Adelaide Crows and finals being played outside of Victoria.
"He was a man who changed our game for the better."
In North Melbourne's tribute to its former player, captain and president, the club said he drove one of the greatest recruiting drives in the game's history, when, among others, Barry Davis, Doug Wade, John Rantall, Malcolm Blight and Barry Cable were lured to Arden St.
"Albert was a giant of our football club, on and off the field," North Melbourne chairman Ben Buckley said.
A family service will be held next week.