Nathan Charles Buckley (born 26 July 1972) is a former champion Australian rules football player, who played primarily as a midfielder, for the Brisbane Bears and more notably the Collingwood Football Club, where he was captain for a record amount of games and won the highly prestigious Brownlow Medal. He retired from the game on 5 October 2007 after recurring hamstring injuries plagued his final playing years and is currently a media celebrity.
He signed with the Bears for the 1993 season only as part of a deal between Buckley and the Bears that allowed him to go to the club of his choice the following season. Brisbane hoped his time in "the Sunshine State" would be long enough to change his mind. He immediately demonstrated his potential, playing 20 games, kicking 21 goals and impressing with his general play. He was the inaugural winner of the Norwich Rising Star Award and finished a close second in the Bears' best-and-fairest award.
Buckley was adamant that the move was the right career direction, with the belief he had more chance of winning a premiership with the Magpies. Ironically, Brisbane would beat Collingwood in two consecutive AFL Grand Finals in 2002 and 2003. In his first season with Collingwood, the Magpies were eliminated by the West Coast Eagles by 2 points in Perth.
From here, Buckley would be a consistent performer for Collingwood. As well as winning a Brownlow Medal in 2003, he finished in the top 3 twice before the turn of the century. He was also named Collingwood's Best & Fairest 6 times in 10 years (including one tied) as well as 6 consecutive years in the All-Australian Team from 1996 to 2001.
In 1999, Buckley suffered a serious jaw injury playing against Carlton in Round 2. He would miss 6 games and return in Round 9 to help Collingwood to their first win of the season and their first in 13 matches. Collingwood finished last this season, only the second time in their history (the other being in 1976). Buckley also competed in the last game at Victoria Park.
In 2002 that Collingwood made the AFL Grand Final for the first time in Buckley's career. On Grand Final day at the MCG, Buckley starred in a losing team, winning the Norm Smith Medal. Famously, Buckley removed the Norm Smith Medal from around his neck shortly after it was presented to him, a symbol of his extreme disappointment and overriding dedication to the team effort. Brisbane defeated Collingwood by 9 points and Buckley became the first losing Norm Smith medalist since Gary Ablett in 1989.
In 2003, Buckley received his highest honor, the Brownlow Medal in a three-way tie with fellow South Australian born players Mark Ricciuto (Adelaide) and Adam Goodes (Sydney). The following Saturday Buckley played in his second losing Grand Final. Brisbane demolished Collingwood from start to finish, although Buckley still managed to gain 24 disposals.
After perhaps the best season of his stellar career in 2003, the Magpie skipper endured a 2004 and 2005 season he would rather forget. He started the season in usual domineering fashion in the opening three rounds, but missed seven of the next eight matches with hamstring problems. When he returned, he appeared to play under duress, spending more time across half-forward or half-back. Buckley was honoured with life membership of the Collingwood Football Club in 2004.
Buckley was rested twice during the season, once for the match against West Coast at Subiaco in Round 7, and again in the Round 21 clash against Carlton. At the end of the 2006 season Buckley indicated the possibility of him standing down as captain of the club, saying that James Clement might be a likely choice for the position. Clement later said he did not wish to become captain. Collingwood President Eddie McGuire played down any rumours of Buckley standing aside.
He returned to the Collingwood side the following week and helped Collingwood to a 25 point win over Sydney, in a vital game for Collingwood's finals' hopes after losing to Adelaide in Round 22, Collingwood would again beat Sydney. The Magpies then won a nailbiter against West Coast, a match which was forced into extra time, becoming the first side in 6 years to make it to Preliminary Final from outside the top four, and the sudden death of Len Thompson only days prior to the Preliminary final gave Collingwood extra motivation. However, Collingwood would lose to Geelong by five points. Three weeks later, on 5 October 2007, Buckley announced his retirement. Buckley, and fellow retirees James Clement and Paul Licuria were farewelled that evening at the 2007 Copeland Trophy Dinner. It was an emotional farewell for three true greats of the famous club, each having won at least two Copeland Trophies, and will forever be remembered as three of the club's finest servants, in particular throughout the club's well documented 2002 and 2003 campaigns, which saw the side defeated in successive years by Brisbane on Grand Final.
Collingwood V Fremantle Round 15, 1997, at Victoria Park: In his 100th senior match, Buckley floored the Dockers with 43 possessions, many of which fed full forward Sav Rocca, who booted nine of his own, snapping the club's seven match losing streak, a 10-goal final term ensuring a 100 point victory on the Magpies home ground, Victoria Park.
Collingwood v Fremantle Round 8, 1999, at the MCG Collingwood were yet to win a match all season, and to make matters worse, Buckley was sidelined between rounds three and seven due to a broken jaw, suffered in a clash with Carlton's Justin Murphy on Easter Monday in round two. Upon return, Buckley dominated against the Dockers with three goals and 26 disposals, ensuring he was awarded the three Brownlow votes on a wet afternoon at the MCG
Collingwood v Adelaide Round 2, 2000, at the MCG Having flogged Hawthorn by 54 points in their first premiership game under new coach Mick Malthouse, the Magpies were locked in a war of attrition with Adelaide at the MCG on a muddy Sunday afternoon. Buckley snared another three Brownlow votes with 31-disposals and three more goals. With Paul Williams and Sav Rocca booting five each, the Pies accounted for the Crows by eleven points.
Collingwood v Fremantle Round 2, 2001, at Colonial Stadium In one of the most dominant performances in the history of the Australian game, Buckley collected a whopping 46 possessions and booted two goals, as the Magpies accounted for the lowly Dockers to the tune of 17 points at Colonial Stadium, their first victory of the season. 46 possessions is currently unmatched as the highest by a single player since 1994 when quarters were shortened to twenty minutes.
Collingwood v Adelaide Round 13, 2001, at Football Park With two goals and 37 touches of the Sherrin, it's fair to say that Buckley suffered from leather poisoning, the captain piloting his side's two point cliffhanger against the Crows in foreign territory. This would be the first of 5 straight wins against Adelaide.
Collingwood v Brisbane, Grand Final 2002, at the MCG The 2002 Grand Final will go down as perhaps Nathan Buckley's finest performance in the Collingwood jumper. On a sodden MCG, Buckley - and his Magpies - were superb, pushing the all-conquering Lions to the absolute limit, going down late in the last quarter by a mere nine points. The captain was magnificent, gathering 32-disposals, and booting a vital third term goal from the boundary line to give his side the lead. It was Buckley at his best, as was agreed upon by the experts, who adjudged Buckley the Norm Smith Medallist of 2002.
Collingwood v Essendon, Round 5 2003, at the MCG Despite Collingwood putting in one of its most lacklustre performances for the season, Buckley refused to yield, winning 37 possessions, laying four tackles, and booting a goal from long range in the second term.
Rounds 13-17 2003 In the mid-season encounters with the Western Bulldogs, the Kangaroos, Fremantle, Richmond and Carlton, Buckley hit the longest and strongest purple patch of his illustrious career. With Collingwood faltering in the middle of the ladder, with six wins and six losses after the halfway mark of the season, Buckley kicked up a gear, taking his team with him. Winning 10 Brownlow votes over the five-week stretch, Buckley's brilliance was on display for all to see, setting up a number of attacks on-ball, ably supported by the excellent form of Scott Burns, Paul Licuria and Shane Woewodin.
Collingwood v Brisbane, Round 10 2006 With his hamstrings failing him, Buckley was thrown into attack in the latter stages of 2005, and by the midway point of the following year he had adapted into the role of the match winning forward, with the ability to still take a stint in the engine room. On this cool Saturday evening under the MCG lights, Buckley's career-best six goals (and 29-possessions) arguably won the match for the Magpies; their first win over Brisbane since the 2003 Qualifying Final.
On New Year's Eve 2002 Buckley married Tania Minnici. She is known for wearing revealing outfits to the Brownlow Medal, most notably a gown with a visible diamante g-string in 2001. The couple have two sons; Jett Charles, who was born on 22 December 2006 and Ayce Dominic, who was born on 21 September 2008.
Buckley now lives in a $4m house in Toorak with his wife, children and black pug, Big..
Buckley has also moved into harness racing and is the owner of the Group One winner Hurricane Jett, a now 2yo pacer named after his oldest son and trained by highly successful trainer and Collingwood supporter Jayne Davies.
He was the central character in an advertising campaign by wireless broadband provider Unwired.
Buckley signed as a commentator with Channel Seven for season 2008, and has signalled his intentions to coach senior football in the future, with an eye to once again returning to Collingwood.