Nathan Buckley’s wife of 18 years asked the AFL superstar where his partner and children were when the pair first met – before snagging a date and eventually tying the knot.
The Collingwood head coach and his wife Tania announced on Friday that they separated 11 months ago after almost two decades of marriage.
The former couple have been co-parenting their two sons Ayce, 12, and Jett, 14, in the months since the break-up.
Buckley and Tania said ‘I do’ in 2002, just three years after a chance meeting at a St Kilda restaurant, which was owned by friends they had in common.
Nathan Buckley’s wife of 18 years Tania asked the AFL superstar where his partner and children were when the pair first met – before snagging a date and eventually tying the knot. The couple are pictured together in 2000
The Collingwood head coach and his wife Tania (pictured) announced on Friday that they separated 11 months ago after almost two decades of marriage
Buckley was the newly appointed Collingwood captain and had been single for 10 months after ending a relationship with radio and TV presenter Shelley Ware when Tania quizzed him about his personal life.
‘Where are your wife and kids?’ She asked.
Tania relived the pair’s meeting in an interview with the Herald Sun in 2011.
‘I thought maybe he was out on the town,’ she recalled.
‘He said, ”No, I’m not married and I don’t have kids”. So I thought, ”Oh, OK then”, and I gave him a cheeky smile.’
Buckley’s friends were discussing going somewhere else and Tania said she would not join them, instead saying she would go ‘up the road’.
The AFL couple issued a statement via Tania’s Instagram page on Friday, publicly announcing they actually split in January
Buckley and Tania are seen with their son Jett ahead of announcing his retirement from AFL in 2007
She took her bag and left but was quickly followed by Buckley, who ran up the street behind her and asked if he could join her.
Tania told the publication that’s how their romance ‘started’.
Her father, a Collingwood supporter in his own right, was very impressed when Tania brought home a younger Buckley.
The family weren’t surprised when just a year later at a BBQ Buckley asked Tania to marry him in front of everyone.
The former WAG also previously touched on how she struggled to fit in with the Collingwood community in the early days.
She described it as one of the most difficult times in her life.
‘It was very hard to sit with the wives and girlfriends. The girls made it very tough to break in as an outsider,’ she said.
Back in 2001, Tania sparked a media storm after walking the Brownlow Medal red carpet in a daring soft pink frock.
Back in 2001, Tania sparked a media storm after walking the Brownlow Medal red carpet in a daring soft pink frock (pictured)
The iconic dress featured a sequinned G-string intentionally attached to the base of Tania’s back.
The couple announced their break-up on Tania’s Instagram.
‘It has been a tough and challenging year for every family and for ours included,’ the statement read.
‘It is with the utmost of love and respect for each other and a true commitment to our sons, that we made a decision to separate in January.
‘We remain dedicated parents and in the interests of our boys, we ask for our family to be given the privacy that is needed.
‘We thank everyone in advance for understanding our request and for the unconditional love and support we have received throughout our marriage.’
Buckley and Tania (pictured in 2017) said ‘I do’ in 2002, just three years after a chance meeting at a St Kilda restaurant, which was owned by friends they had in common
After the Magpies lost the AFL Grand Final to Richmond in Queensland, Buckley moved out of the family home when he returned to Melbourne.
Buckley is reportedly now staying at an apartment in South Yarra, which is owned by his friend Paul Roberts – a TLA sports executive.
Buckley played 20 games for the Brisbane Bears before joining Collingwood in 1994.
He played 260 matches for the Magpies and booted 263 goals, becoming one of the club’s most decorated players.
By 1999, he was captain of the team – a position he held until he retired in 2007.
In 2002, Buckley married Tania and won the Norm Smith Medal in the same year.
The next year, he won the Brownlow Medal.
He took over the senior coaching role at the Magpies in 2012 after the controversial departure of Mick Malthouse.
Buckley (left) and his wife Tania (right) attend the Brownlow Medal in Melbourne in 2018