Australian soccer's Stephen Laybutt found dead at 46

By Jen Krausz on
 January 16, 2024

Stephen Laybutt, who played soccer for Australia in the 2000 Olympics and on the Socceroo professional team from 2000 to 2004, was found dead Sunday in the bushland at age 46 after a police search that lasted more than a day. 

Laybutt was visiting friends on Friday in Cabarita on the New South Wales north coast, but they reported him missing Saturday morning when he didn't answer his phone and they couldn't locate him.

His car was found parked outside a store in Cabarita at around 11:30 a.m., and a search ensued that lasted until he was found around 7 p.m. on Sunday.

The Daily Mail reported Tuesday that police believe Laybutt took his own life in the bushland, but no other specifics were given. The death was not ruled suuspicious.

"Nobody knew"

Laybutt's soccer career did not end when he left Socceroo. He played as a journeyman until he ruptured his Achilles tendon in 2008 playing for the Newcastle Jets in the A-League, after which he retired from the sport.

After leaving soccer, he came out as gay and entered a long term relationship in 2010.

He said that his sexuality had a big impact on his career in soccer, and that he didn't feel comfortable coming out until after he left the sport.

"There was no way that I was ever going to come out," he said.

He added, "Everyone says your mum knows, your best friend knows … Nobody knew."

Post-soccer life

After leaving soccer, Laybutt worked for the rehabilitation unit at St Vincent’s Private Hospital in Sydney.

He made national headlines in 2021 when he donated one of his kidneys to a patient in the rehab, Ian Pavey, who had been on dialysis for three years.

He said that he admired Pavey's positivity in the face of his disease and that he felt it was "the right thing to do."

If Laybutt did take his own life, he seems to have been leading the same kind of double life around his mental health that he previously did around his sexuality.

If you or a loved one struggle with depression or thoughts of suicide, call the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988 for non-judgemental help.

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