Tributes flow for footy loving migrant millionaire who died young
Thursday, October 25 2007 @ 12:07 pm ACST
Contributed by: Sean Finlayson
John was an Australian "rags to riches" story, a Muslim who migrated from Turkey to Australia. From working class Broadmeadows, he opened his first store in 1991 and in just 10 years he had built up one of Australia's biggest retail chains. In 2003, he topped the Australian Young Rich list, becoming Australia's richest man 40 years or younger. His personal fortune was estimated to be worth over AUD$300 million. His success came largely from his business innovation, his larger than life personality and his hands on approach to business. John became a role model for many Australian muslims and migrants.
A sports fanatic, Ilhan became personally involved in many Australian sporting clubs, as reported in the Herald Sun's story Millions donated to sport by John Ilhan. He was particularly passionate about Aussie Rules and AFL even though he had played soccer as a young boy. He even offered $1 million to any player who could kick 10 goals in this year's AFL Grand Final.
Ilhan had become a very vocal supporter of the Richmond Tigers, pouring millions of dollars into the club during its hardest times and at one stage he made a bid for the Tigers board and presidency, causing both publicity and controversy.
He died at age 42 whilst jogging of a suspected heart attack, perhaps due to heavy stress.
The death left the football community shocked and he will be sadly missed.