After ten operations, five knee reconstructions, almost five years without a senior AFL game and 1736 days on the sidelines, Alex Johnson will line up for the Sydney Swans NEAFL side in Saturday's clash with the Canberra Demons at Manuka Oval.
The tough, courageous and resilient 25-year-old defender, just a few words that describe the much-loved defender, he's had to overcome infections and a myriad of set backs along the way.
“It is just something within me that I have been able to keep positive and keep everything in perspective,” Johnson said.
“There are a lot of people a lot worse off than me in the world and I have still had a really good job over the last few years where I come to work with really good people and keep fit for a living.
“I have always had that goal of returning to the field and that is what I want to achieve.”
The Swans drafted the defender with pick 57 in the 2010 AFL Draft and he instantly impressed in his first pre-season with the Swans, earning his debut in round 3, 2011.
He quickly emerged as a reliable, rebounding defender and just 44 games after making his debut, he was a member of the Swans 2012 premiership side.
Johnson's story is one of courage, toughness, resilience and persistence, as he strives to become the first player to return to AFL football after five knee reconstructions on the same knee.
“I haven’t seen anything quite like Alex’s journey – he’s had five knee reconstructions and some pretty down times,” Longmire said.
“Sitting down with him and seeing him a couple of times with the infections he’s had in his knee, and what that’s done to him not only in a football sense but more in a human sense, has been really heartbreaking, but also inspiring in the way he’s been able to deal with it.
“His mental resilience is as strong as I’ve ever seen and his ability to put the setbacks to one side and keep concentrating on the future has been at an incredibly high level.”
The Sydney Swans and Canberra Demons NEAFL match will be played at Canberra’s Manuka Oval on Saturday, July 1 at 12pm.
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