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Victoria will offer a state funeral for Ron Barassi

Matt Turner/AAP PHOTOS

Ron Barassi's family will be offered a state funeral to honour the Australian sporting icon.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews confirmed the gesture will be made after Barassi died on Saturday aged 87.

Andrews joined Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and the AFL community in paying tribute to Barassi, with league chairman Richard Goyder calling him the game's most important figure since World War Two.

The premier also noted that Barassi died the day after a hard-fought semi-final between Carlton and Melbourne, two of the four clubs where the player and coach is revered for his contribution.

"The word legend is used a lot. But nobody deserves it quite like Ron Barassi," Andrews said in a social media post.

"He didn't just play the game - he reshaped it.

"And how fitting that (Friday) night's game was a cliffhanger between the Dees and the Blues.

"The government will offer Ron's family a state funeral to remember him - and I hope they accept."

Players and fans gave Barassi a standing ovation at Adelaide Oval and there was a short period of silence before Saturday night's Port Adelaide-GWS semi-final.

Barassi played 253 senior VFL games in his career, including 204 for Melbourne and 49 for Carlton.

Between playing and coaching, Barassi claimed 10 premierships at Melbourne, Carlton and North Melbourne.

Only fellow Demons great Norm Smith, who coached Barassi, has as many flags in his Australian Rules playing and coaching career.

Barassi is a seminal figure in the history of four clubs - as a premiership player and later coach at Melbourne, as a premiership coach at Carlton, the coach of North Melbourne's first two flags and the man who coached Sydney when the club was on its knees.

His life featured some of the game's most famous memories and Goyder noted that he was famous around the country long before the VFL became the national AFL.

When his father and fellow Melbourne player Ron Barassi Snr was killed at Tobruk in 1941 during World War Two, the Demons pledged to support Barassi and his mother.

Eventually, after lobbying from Melbourne, he became one of the game's first father-son recruits and he debuted for Melbourne at 17.

He played in six Melbourne premierships and reinvented the playing role of ruck-rover.

He stunned the game by leaving Melbourne for Carlton after the 1964 season. Until Barassi made the move, players rarely changed clubs.

His decision is regarded as the moment when the then-VFL left its amateur origins.

Barassi coached Carlton to two premiership and the 1970 grand final win over Collingwood is considered one of the game's greatest matches.

His halftime instruction for Blues players to handball at any cost is part of Australian Rules folklore.

He coached North Melbourne to their first premierships in 1975 and '77 and returned to Melbourne as coach in the early '80s, without success.

He was lured out of retirement to coach Sydney in 1993 when the club was on its knees and he laid some of the groundwork for the Swans' grand final appearance under Rodney Eade in 1996.

On New Year's Day in 2009, Barassi went to the aid of a woman being attacked in the street by a group of men who then turned on the AFL legend, leaving him with serious head injuries.

He received an Australian Bravery Award for his actions.