MELBOURNE manager of football operations Josh Mahoney and its leaders have paid tribute to former senior coach Dean Bailey, who sadly passed away due to cancer on Tuesday.

Mahoney, who joined Bailey’s coaching group, when he was appointed Melbourne coach in 2007, said he had a massive impact on his career.

“We’ve already seen the outpouring of messages from players and the impact on people he meets,” he said.

“He’s infectious for life and for the game and he’s going to be lost by the AFL industry. He’s been involved with a number of clubs – Essendon, [Port Adelaide], Melbourne and the Adelaide Crows.

“He’s had a big influence in a number of different roles and he’ll be sadly missed and we feel for Caron, Mitch and Darcy. One of the great things about the AFL – we come together in tough times and hopefully this is another time when we come together and help the family get through a really tough time.”

Co-captain Jack Grimes said Bailey gave him his first opportunity at the highest level.

“He made me believe I could play AFL footy,” he said.

“Since leaving the Dees, he’s always been a huge support of mine and I’ve kept in close contact with him. I really saw him as a great friend, so it is really, really tough to hear the news.

“He really, really was a great person and it’s sad to see the AFL industry lose someone like Dean Bailey.”

He said the care Bailey showed his players was one of his greatest strengths.  

“It does come as a real shock and it is pretty hard to deal with, because it all seems to have happened so soon,” Grimes said.

“For all of us players who have had a fair bit to do with Bails over his time at Melbourne, it’s still pretty raw and sinking in.

“Our thoughts really go out to Mitch and Darcy and the rest of his family and friends and I hope that they’re doing OK from this difficult time.”

Midfielder Jack Trengove said Bailey was like a “father figure” to him when he shifted from South Australia to join the Demons.

“To me, I still remember the first day Bails walked in my front door, back in Adelaide to test out who I really was as a person and to test my character,” he said.

“I was pretty nervous going into it, but as soon as I shook his hand, I felt at ease with him.

“He was one of the kindest humans I’ve ever come across. He always looks out for you as a person and footy was really the secondary thing in the whole scheme of things. He was just there to try and get the best out of every individual player on his list and build those relationships … he’ll be sorely missed.”

Defender Colin Garland said Bailey was a huge influence away from the game.

“He was the kind of guy who would have you around with Caron and the boys on a Wednesday night for dinner,” he said.

“Aidan Riley and Bernie Vince, who are at the club now – they came from Adelaide last year and they only speak highly of Dean as well. You never heard a bad word said about him.

“We’re really going to miss him and our thoughts are with his family.”