PORT Adelaide legend Russell Ebert has died after a battle with cancer. He was 72.

Ebert was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, a form of cancer, in December last year.

The four-time Magarey medallist passed away at home on Friday afternoon surrounded by his family.

Ebert, who played a club-record 392 games with the Port Adelaide Magpies in the SANFL and won three premierships and six best and fairest awards, was recently elevated to Legend status in the South Australian Sport Hall of Fame.

Russell Ebert was presented with his South Australian Sport Hall of Fame Legend status by Barrie Robran and Bruce McAvaney. Picture: portadelaidefc.com.au

In doing so, he became just the seventh Legend, following in the footsteps of Sir Donald Bradman AC and Bart Cummings AM (2010), Barrie Robran MBE (2011), Victor Richardson OBE and Gillian Rolton AM (2016), and Anna Meares (2020).

Ebert also played one season for North Melbourne in the VFL in 1979, helping the club reach the preliminary final.

He captain-coached Port Adelaide from 1983 to 1985, and was then non-playing coach in 1986 and 1987 before leaving to coach Woodville from 1988 to 1990.

As good as he was on the field, Ebert was equally revered off it.

Last year he was recognised for his work with Port Adelaide's Community Youth Program, which educates primary school children about healthy lifestyles, healthy relationships and STEM, leading to him being named a national finalist and the South Australian Local Hero for 2021 as part of the Australia Day Awards. He also worked with the club's Power to End Violence Against Women program.

In a statement on Friday, AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan paid tribute to Ebert as not only a brilliant footballer but the "best of all of us".

Russell Ebert in his Port Adelaide Magpies days. Picture: Supplied

"Russell Ebert was an extraordinary footballer and his record attests to that as the only person in SANFL history with four Magarey Medals, coupled with multiple premierships and nearly 400 senior games just for his beloved Magpies, alongside his brilliant state career and a season with North Melbourne in the VFL," McLachlan said.

"As a young fan of the game in Adelaide, even when watching him as an opposition player, you couldn't help but admire his high marking, his one-touch ball-gathering, his brilliant attacking handball and his exceptional kicking skills on both sides of his body, as he was taking your side apart. All while being an incredibly fair player who relied on his skills while being strong and brave.

"As his time in football concluded, Russell then truly blossomed as a humble but strong leader in wider society, not just football, and across more than 30 years he diligently worked every day in seeking to improve his community, using his profile and leadership to show people better ways to treat each other, and assist those who were struggling.

Shaun Rehn and coach Russell Ebert hold aloft the trophy after winning the 1998 AFL State of Origin match between South Australia and Western Australia. Picture: AFL Photos

"The child in me will always admire the great footballer but the adult that I am is in awe of what Russell Ebert was as a man, and his loss after bravely confronting his illness is devastating for his family, for his club, his many fans and for the state of South Australia, where he has given so much.

"He was everything you would hope to be in a man, and perhaps the best of all of us."

Port Adelaide president David Koch was among those who praised Ebert's contribution to the South Australian community.

"No person has done more for the Port Adelaide and South Australian football community than Russell Ebert. He represented everything about Port Adelaide, yet had the power to transcend rivalries and connect with the entire football community and beyond," Koch said.

"Tonight we all carry a heavy heart as we've lost one of the greatest of all time. The Port Adelaide community is hurting like never before. But it also provides an opportunity to celebrate what Russell has contributed to Port Adelaide, football and the wider community."

Port Adelaide CEO Matthew Richardson said it is a sad day for the football world.

"Russell's contribution to Port Adelaide, to football, and more broadly to the community in South Australia is monumental," Richardson said.

"On the football field he was incomparable. Scrupulously fair, Russell always played the game in the right spirit. But he was tough, with his granite like physique. He played in equal doses of rare courage and remarkable brilliance which set him aside from any other player in South Australian history. And with a great sense of humour and insatiable willingness to put others first, Russell became one of the giants of South Australia."

Ebert's son Brett played 166 games for Port Adelaide and was the club's leading goalkicker in 2007, while his nephew Brad also represented the club 184 times.

Russell Ebert (Port Adel (SANFL)/North Melbourne)

Playing career: 1968-1985 (PA (SANFL)1968-1978, 1980-1985, NM 1979)
Games: 417 (Port Adel(SANFL) 392, NM 25) Goals: 310 (Port Adel(SANFL) 295, NM 15)
Player honours: Magarey Medal 1971, 1974, 1976, 1980; PA(SANFL) best and fairest 1971, 1972, 1974, 1976, 1977, 1981; PA(SANFL) leading goalkicker 1968; PA(SANFL) captain 1974-1978; PA premierships 1977, 1980, 1981; South Aust (35 games 0 goals).
Coaching career: Port Adelaide (1983-87) 116 games, Woodville (1988-90) 64 games