There’s persevering in the face of adversity, and then there’s this mountainous effort from Sydney Swans young gun Alex Johnson.
The last time Johnson walked onto the field to play an official AFL game was in the Grand Final.
Johnson played a handy supporting role across half-back in Sydney’s thrilling 10-point Premiership win against Hawthorn. In a pre-season game the following year, Johnson ruptured his ACL which set him on a gruelling, six-year journey back to the game’s top level.
Johnson is set to earn a stunning recall to the Sydney side for their Round 20 clash against Collingwood this coming Saturday night.
It will be Johnson’s first game of AFL football in 2,136 days.
In the nearly six years since last taking the field the 26-year-old has had to endure a harrowing run of injury, surgery, and recovery; undergoing five – count ’em, five – full knee reconstruction operations, as well as a dozen other knee surgeries related to a nasty reoccurring infection on the knee joint, as well as a small round of surgery on his groin earlier this year.
It took Johnson 1,736 days after the 2012 Grand Final to play his first game of football at any level, which came last year when he ran out for the Swans reserve side in the NEAFL in July of last year.
At the time, his injury and recovery was profiled by the Swans in an at-times stark and confronting short documentary.
Just over a full year since then, Johnson is set to return to the Swans senior side which caps off a remarkable football journey.
Initially his prospects of a return to AFL footy appeared dead in the water after the Swans delisted him at the end of the 2017 season. However the club threw him a lifeline by re-recruiting him via the team’s Rookie List, and a run of good form in the reserves side will see him earn an extremely long-awaited recall.
Sport. It’s a hell of a thing.
Best of luck to the young man and his clearly robotic knees.