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Ben Cousins, 43, looks happy and healthy as he captains a charity match in Perth

Troubled AFL legend Ben Cousins appeared in great spirits on Saturday, as he made a grand return to captain a team of players at a charity football match in Perth.

The 43-year-old – who has battled drug addiction and various legal issues in the past – was in his element as he was applauded by fans, who watched him lead the Crusaders against ex-Brisbane player Des Headland’s Spartans.

Although his team didn’t walk away with a win, the momentous occasion marked the first time Cousins had walked out as a captain since the AFL Grand Final in 2005.

In his element: Troubled AFL legend Ben Cousins appeared in great spirits on Saturday, as he made a grand return to captain a team of players at a charity football match in Perth

Saturday’s charity match at the Leederville Oval was to support Footy for Life, which raises funds for The Happiness Co Foundation and Lifeline WA.

Cousins’ teammate Tim Brayshaw posted a touching tribute to the athlete post-match. 

‘There is no better way to portray the concept of Footy for life, than through the character and resilience of the man who has soared at the highest of highs and lowest of lows,’ he wrote.

‘You should be incredibly proud of yourself Benny Cousins. No matter what the critics may say, it is the man in the arena that matters most.’

For a good cause: Saturday's charity match at the Leederville Oval was to support Footy for Life, which raises funds for The Happiness Co Foundation and Lifeline WA

For a good cause: Saturday’s charity match at the Leederville Oval was to support Footy for Life, which raises funds for The Happiness Co Foundation and Lifeline WA

Grand return: The 43-year-old - who has battled drug addiction and various legal issues in the past - looked to be in his element as he was met with huge cheers from fans, who came to watch him lead the Crusaders against ex-Brisbane player Des Headland's Spartans

Grand return: The 43-year-old – who has battled drug addiction and various legal issues in the past – looked to be in his element as he was met with huge cheers from fans, who came to watch him lead the Crusaders against ex-Brisbane player Des Headland’s Spartans

Impressive: Although his team didn't walk away with a win, the momentous occasion marked the first time Cousins has walked out as a captain since the AFL Grand Final in 2005

Impressive: Although his team didn’t walk away with a win, the momentous occasion marked the first time Cousins has walked out as a captain since the AFL Grand Final in 2005

Dan Hedland’s Spartans won 157 – 125 over the Crusaders. 

Brayshaw added: ‘Sometimes you get the opportunity to fly with some Eagles. 

‘Although we didn’t sneak away with the win, there were much more important wins at play, and the kind that can’t be measured on the footy field.

Top shape: Cousins looked in fine form on the day, wearing a red-and-white uniform which showed off his muscular physique

Top shape: Cousins looked in fine form on the day, wearing a red-and-white uniform which showed off his muscular physique

Beaming: After the match, the legendary star was seen taking photos with a fan in a locker room

Beaming: After the match, the legendary star was seen taking photos with a fan in a locker room

‘To be raising awareness for Mental health and Suicide Prevention through a game of footy is phenomenal.. to have all the donations going to Happiness Co Foundation & Lifeline WA will benefit so many Western Australian lives.’

Cousins – who is now working as a demolition tradie – looked in fine form on the day, wearing his red-and-white uniform which showed off his muscular physique.

The ripped star couldn’t wipe the grin off his face as he chatted with his team mates, before posing with fans after the match came to an end.

Loss: Dan Hedland's Spartans won 157 - 125 over the Crusaders

Loss: Dan Hedland’s Spartans won 157 – 125 over the Crusaders 

Epic: Cousins' teammate Tim Brayshaw posted a tribute to the sporting legend post-match, writing: 'There is no better way to portray the concept of Footy for life, than through the character and resilience of the man who has soared at the highest of highs and lowest of lows'

Epic: Cousins’ teammate Tim Brayshaw posted a tribute to the sporting legend post-match, writing: ‘There is no better way to portray the concept of Footy for life, than through the character and resilience of the man who has soared at the highest of highs and lowest of lows’

'You should be incredibly proud of yourself Benny Cousins. No matter what the critics may say, it is the man in the arena that matters most,' Tim added

‘You should be incredibly proud of yourself Benny Cousins. No matter what the critics may say, it is the man in the arena that matters most,’ Tim added

At his peak, Cousins was undoubtedly the best player in the AFL, but suffered a rapid demise and subsequent total unwillingness to rid himself of negative life influences.

In 2020, he decided to turn his life around after being jailed for the sixth time in 13 years.

The former West Coast Eagles captain was convicted on November 4, 2020 and sentenced to seven months jail for stalking his former partner Maylea Tinecheff. 

Happy: The ripped sports star couldn't wipe the grin off his face as he chatted with his team mates

Happy: The ripped sports star couldn’t wipe the grin off his face as he chatted with his team mates

Ripped: Cousins is now working as a demolition tradie, as he continues to turn his life around

Ripped: Cousins is now working as a demolition tradie, as he continues to turn his life around

Training: Cousins looked fighting fit during a training session for the charity event earlier this month

Training: Cousins looked fighting fit during a training session for the charity event earlier this month

Ripped: At his peak, Cousins was undoubtedly the best player in the AFL, but suffered a rapid demise and subsequent total unwillingness to rid himself of negative life influences. Pictured in February 2006

Ripped: At his peak, Cousins was undoubtedly the best player in the AFL, but suffered a rapid demise and subsequent total unwillingness to rid himself of negative life influences. Pictured in February 2006

He was released just two weeks later from Hakea Jail in Perth due to time already served.

Buoyed by the knowledge that getting clean and healthy was the key to being a good dad to his children, son Bobby, nine, and daughter Angelique, seven, he soon started talking to Susan Backshell, a mental health support worker. 

She issued him a blunt ultimatum soon after they met: ‘Give your all, or forget it entirely.’

Hard: In 2020, Cousins decided to turn his life around after being jailed for the sixth time in 13 years. Pictured leaving Fremantle Magistrates Court in Perth in 2017

Hard: In 2020, Cousins decided to turn his life around after being jailed for the sixth time in 13 years. Pictured leaving Fremantle Magistrates Court in Perth in 2017

Since then, he has volunteered at several events in and around Perth with Ms Backshell’s community group KALT Collective, acting as a beacon of hope for disadvantaged youths, addicts and reformed criminals.

He was even named as employee of the month at a Perth construction company in October 2021, in another sign he has truly turned his life around.

The flow-on effect has seen Cousins able to spend more time with his children.

Before his well-overdue epiphany, Cousins had been in and out of jail since 2010 on drug and domestic violence charges.

Troubled past: Before his well-overdue epiphany, Cousins had been in and out of jail since 2010 on drug and domestic violence charges

Troubled past: Before his well-overdue epiphany, Cousins had been in and out of jail since 2010 on drug and domestic violence charges

Return to the spotlight: Ben, who was awarded a Brownlow Medal in 2005, even made his long-awaited return to the ceremony in September last year alongside his date Kelley Hayes

Return to the spotlight: Ben, who was awarded a Brownlow Medal in 2005, even made his long-awaited return to the ceremony in September last year alongside his date Kelley Hayes

‘I appreciate the support of everyone and how many chances they have given me, more than I deserve and more than I would have given anyone else,’ Cousins said in September 2021, according to The West Australian.

Ben, who was awarded a Brownlow Medal in 2005, even made his long-awaited return to the ceremony in September last year alongside his date, WA FIFO worker Kelley Hayes.

While they appeared very happy holding hands on the red carpet, it’s not known if the pair are still together today.

‘I’m just very fortunate that I got the opportunity to come to one of football’s great nights,’ Ben said on the red carpet.

‘It’s definitely a big night, it’s been a while since I’ve been to one of the football industry nights so I’m looking forward to it.’

Stronger: Since 2020, he has volunteered at several events in and around Perth with Ms Backshell's community group KALT Collective, acting as a beacon of hope for disadvantaged youths, addicts and reformed criminals

Stronger: Since 2020, he has volunteered at several events in and around Perth with Ms Backshell’s community group KALT Collective, acting as a beacon of hope for disadvantaged youths, addicts and reformed criminals 

THE TROUBLED LIFE AND TIMES OF BEN COUSINS:

1996 – Makes AFL debut with West Coast and is named the league’s Rising Star

2001 – Named club captain of West Coast at age 23

2002 – Breaks his arm falling down a flight of stairs at a nightclub months after punching his teammate Daniel Kerr

2005 – (May) Is quizzed by police about association with underworld identities

– (September) Wins Brownlow medal as the AFL’s best and fairest player

Cousins after the 2006 AFL Grand Final

Cousins after the 2006 AFL Grand Final

2006 – (February) Swims across a Perth river to escape a booze bus

– (September) Wins AFL premiership with the Eagles

– (December) Is arrested after passing out in front of Melbourne’s Crown Casino and spends four hours in jail 

2007 – (March) Suspended by West Coast after missing training session

– (April) Goes to a drug rehabilitation facility in the US

– (October) Revealed to have visited fellow Eagles legend Chris Mainwaring twice on the night he died of a drug overdose

– (October) Arrested and charged with drug offences that are later dropped 

– (November) Eventually sacked by West Coast and banned from the AFL for one year

2008 – AFL re-registers Cousins and he is signed by Richmond

2010 – Retires from the AFL but releases autobiography and documentary

Cousins has been charged with drug possession and refusing a drug test in 2007, but the charges were later dropped

Cousins has been charged with drug possession and refusing a drug test in 2007, but the charges were later dropped

2015 – Arrested three times before leading police on a slow-speed car chase

2016 – (June) Spotted behaving erratically and directing traffic on a highway 

– (October) In and out of court over drug offences and breaches a restraining order taken out by his ex-partner  

2018 – (January) Released from jail on parole just 10 months into his sentence

He takes up a community support role with the West Coast Eagles – a requirement of his parole conditions 

– (May): Reports emerge he hasn’t been seen at the club for a month

The club confirms the he told officials in April he no longer wanted the job

– (August) Arrested and charged with drug possession and breaching a  restraining order

2019 – (February) He was fined $1,750 for possessing meth and hiding it up his anus while in jail 

(March) Cousins pleaded not guilty to 14 offences in court, including breaching a family violence restraining order and a count each of aggravated stalking and threatening to injure, endanger or harm  

(April) Cousins is arrested in Perth with a  Cousins is released from jail on bail after eight months inside.

2020 – (March) Tell-all documentary Coming Clean goes to air – Cousins opens up about his meth addiction and time behind bars.

(April) Cousins is arrested in Perth after allegedly being caught with 2.5grams of methamphetamine while asleep beside his car. 

He is remanded in custody after pleading guilty to possessing methamphetamine and incurring a $1500 fine. 

He is also charged with aggravated stalking of his ex-partner, Maylea Tinecheff.

(October) Cousins pleads not guilty to aggravated stalking and 20 counts of breaching a family violence restraining order relating to his ex-partner.

(November) He is convicted of stalking his ex-partner but acquitted by a Perth court of restraining order breaches.  He is sentenced to seven months jail, which is backdated to April.

He is released from Hakea prison in late November. 

2021 – Cousins returns to the footy field playing for the Queens Park Bulldogs in Perth’s Metro Football League

Ben Cousins, 43, looks happy and healthy as he captains a charity match in Perth Source link Ben Cousins, 43, looks happy and healthy as he captains a charity match in Perth

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