ComplexCon returns to Long Beach Nov. 6 - 7 with hosts J. Balvin and Kristen Noel Crawley, performances by A$AP Rocky and Turnstile, and more shopping and drops.

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I grew up in a staunchly Carlton-supporting family. My dad actually forced my mum to switch her allegiances before they got married. There was absolutely no chance I wasn’t going to grow up with in a navy blue jersey, with Anthony Koutoufides’ famous 43 ironed on the back.

Kouta’s storied AFL career began in 1992, where he spent most of his time vying for a spot in Carlton’s stacked backline. After spending years honing his craft as a reliable defender, Koutoufides made a move to the midfield and soon revolutionised the game. He was part of the Premiership-winning 1995 Blues, but he truly made the game his own in the 1999 preliminary final against Carlton's long-time nemesis, the Essendon Bombers. In the fourth quarter alone, Koutoufides amassed ten kicks, six marks, four clearances, three rebounds and two goals. It was a performance that would later be described by former teammate, club legend, and later, president, Stephen Kernahan as "the greatest quarter of football ever played.”

His AFL career came to a close in 2007, and Kouta was inducted into the AFL Hall of Fame in 2014. Though he managed to stay in the public eye via appearances on TV’s Gladiators and Dancing With The Stars, Kouta has also been spotted at Melbourne sneaker events over the past few years. 

Sneakerheads in the thriving Melbourne scene are often shocked to see a Hall of Famer haggling with sellers, making his way through the pack, and emerging with a box of Yeezys firmly gripped in one hand like he did on the field so many times during his AFL career.

After two decades of worshipping the Carlton great, I was fortunate enough to bump into him one day while selling kicks. We formed a friendship from there, and over the next few years I discovered the love Kouta had for sneakers. It was much more than just another athlete being fed pairs by a brand, this was a real love that many of us can relate to.