Sam Jacobs' inspiring display for 'beautiful big brother'
SAM Jacobs was playing for more than just a spot in a preliminary final on Thursday night.
Following the tragic passing of his older brother to illness just over a week ago, Jacobs was heroic in playing a significant part in Adelaide's victory over GWS in their qualifying final.
Don Pyke explained on Wednesday that it had been a "tragic set of events" for Jacobs and the family over the past week. No one would have blamed him for not playing on Thursday.
But that he did. And, according to AFL great Dermott Brereton, the fact he was among the best of Adelaide's performers showed plenty about not just Jacobs as a footballer, but as a man.
"He was fantastic," Brereton said on Fox Footy.
"He's had a very trying last week, as we're all aware of. To come out there and do what he did tonight, it speaks volumes or his integrity and his courage."
Coming to the bench late in the match, with the game virtually won, Jacobs was treated to a thoroughly deserved standing ovation from almost everyone inside the Adelaide Oval.
"It was an amazing effort him to play," his teammate Josh Jenkins told foxfooty.com.au.
"Footy clubs are magnificent. Unfortunately we've experienced loss too much in recent times, but for him to play tonight was super.
"So proud of him."
Overcome with emotion, Jacobs was embraced by injured teammate Brodie Smith. Tears were shed.
"It's amazing to play to play in front of our home fans here," Jacobs told Channel Seven.
"To play the way we did, it was a really special night.
"I'm just a bit overawed with the emotion. This week was not about me, it was about the club and we're on a journey to where we want to go.
"I have a fantastic support network around me. It's just great to be able to play my role and get the win tonight."
Jacobs later took to Twitter to thank the football community for its support.
"Thankyou very much eveyrone for all the support, it has been humbling," Jacobs wrote.
"I'm apart (sic) of a special group of players and club!!"
There was only a two-year age gap between Sam and his late brother Aaron, who grew up together in the Yorke Peninsula town of Ardrossan.
"It's never easy when a player's dealing with a tragedy in his family and the loss of his brother," Pyke told reporters post-game.
"Sam was pretty adamant that he wanted to play. It was always going to be difficult, to be honest, for Sam. Credit to him that he was able to come in and perform the way he did under those circumstances.
"But such was his commitment to being a professional player and also his commitment to the team that he didn't want to let them down.
"You could see afterwards, each player and coaching staff were super proud of Sam and what he was able to do tonight. But at the same time, sad for Sam as well.
"Tonight's result, as happy as we all are, we're still sad in our hearts for Sam."
Jacobs took to Facebook earlier in the week to pay tribute to his best mate.
"My beautiful big brother. I will never be able to replace the massive empty feeling I have now in my heart and I can no longer tell you how much I love you and how proud I am of the person you have become," Jacobs wrote.
"You have always been my inspiration and I have got so much strength from watching you battle and fight no matter the challenges you faced and it was always done with that happy, infectious smile on your face."
"Rest In Peace Azza and I'll continue to make you proud and keep your spirit alive!"
Sam, we salute you.