Proteas legends heartbroken as Warne honoured at state memorial service

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Shane Warne was tragically found unresponsive in a Thai resort earlier this month, and it’s since been confirmed that he passed away from “natural causes”, widely reported to be a heart attack.

READ | WHO WAS SHANE WARNE? 10 THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT THE SPIN WIZARD

A private jet flew him home to his native Melbourne, and on Sunday he was fondly remembered at a recent invitation-only service at St Kilda Football Club, an Australian Rules team he supported all his life.

On Wednesday, Warne was described as a “genius” at a state memorial service at Melbourne Cricket Ground, attended by tens of thousands of spectators and legendary players.

Mark Taylor, who captained Warne for Australia, said the huge interest showed “how admired Shane Warne was”.

“The fact he had that rough diamond character about him made him what people like to see. People like to see something a bit different, and they got that with Warnie,” Taylor told reporters.

Fellow Australian captain Allan Border called him “a genius”.

“I don’t know how the Oxford dictionary defined genius, but he’s as close as I’ve been to genius, the way he developed his game and just transcended everything,” he said.

“He’s left us with a flood of memories and such great times.”

A video also shows former English cricket captain Nasser Hussain paying tribute to Shane Warne with a beautiful rendition of Rudyard Kipling’s famous poem ‘If’, with Proteas legends Graeme Smith and AB de Villiers responding to the clip with images of a broken heart on social media

Warne’s family previously issued a statement as his parents, brother Jason, three children Brooke, Jackson and Summer, and ex-wife Simone Callahan paid tribute to the legendary cricketer.

Warne’s parents Keith and Brigette said: “The night of the 4th of March 2022 is when a never-ending nightmare began for our family, for that is the date we lost our much loved and admired son, father, brother and uncle, Shane Keith Warne a tragedy we will never come to terms with.

“To find words to adequately express our sadness is an impossible task for us and looking to a future without Shane is inconceivable, hopefully the mountain of happy memories we all have will help us cope with our ongoing grief.

“Over the past few days Shane has been honoured with the family being offered a state memorial for Shane by Premier Dan Andrews which the family have gratefully accepted.

“The Premier and Minister for Sport and Major Events, Martin Pakula have also advised that the Great Southern Stand at the Melbourne Cricket Ground will be renamed the S.K Warne Stand. We sincerely offer our thanks to the state government and the MCG trust for this honour.

“We would also like to acknowledge the support of Prime Minister Scott Morrison for his kind words both personally and on behalf of the country, as everyone knows Shane was an extremely proud Victorian and Australian.

“Brigitte and I are most grateful for the many messages of love and support received over the past few days and thank one and all for their kind words of comfort.”

Shane’s eldest daughter Brooke, 24, and her siblings described their dad as the “best father”.

Brooke said: “Dad, this doesn’t feel real and doesn’t make sense that you are not here with us anymore. It doesn’t feel right, you were taken away too soon and life is so cruel.

“I will forever cherish our final memories together laughing and joking around with each other. We were happy. We were so similar in so many ways and I always used to joke that I got your genes and about how much that annoyed me!

“Well now I couldn’t be happier and prouder that I have your genes. I am lucky and will forever be so proud to call you my Dad forever. I love you to infinity and back and I will miss you forever.”

CONFIRMED: WARNE DIED OF ‘NATURAL CAUSES’ AS FAMILY BREAK SILENCE

Summer also shared a special message: “Dad, I miss you so much already.”

“I wish I could’ve hugged you tighter in what I didn’t know were my final moments with you. And your final breaths were only moments away. I wish I could’ve told you that everything was going to be okay and hold your hand.

“You are the best Dad someone could ever ask for.”

Jackson added that “sitting at the poker table, walking around the golf course, watching the Saints and eating pizza is never going to be the same”.

“But I know all you ever wanted for me is to be happy, no matter what. You just wanted me to be happy, that’s it. 

“So that’s what I’m going to do, try and be happy. I am going to miss you so much Dad and you were truly the best father and mate anyone could’ve asked for.”

Former wife Simone added in reference to Warne: “(He) who brings a light so great to the world that even after they have gone the light remains.”

REVEALED: WARNE COMPLAINED OF CHEST PAINS BEFORE TRAGIC DEATH

Warne’s brother Jason said he was touched to see the “outflow of emotion and the amazing tributes to him by friends, teammates, opponents and media”.

“It has been truly heartbreaking, whilst also being sincerely appreciated. Personally, I have lost my nemesis in all sports as a child, the person who smeared vegemite under my nose while he pinned me down giving me the typewriter, my big brother, my mate.”

Warne is said to have experienced issues with asthma and battled with some heart issues prior to his death

Tom Hall – chief executive of The Sporting News website – was staying at the resort in Koh Samui, Thailand, and reiterated that there were “no unusual circumstances” surrounding the death of Warne.

Hall said none of Warne’s travelling companions were aware of him visiting a doctor, though he had complained to a friend of “some chest pains and shortness of breath.”

“He knew he was a bit overweight and was getting back into training harder. His travel companions from Australia did everything they could, the local ambulance crews got there fast.”

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