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AFL great Matthew Pavlich confesses he thinks his career was a FAIL in his darkest days

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Fremantle legend Matthew Pavlich confesses that he thinks his great football career was a FAIL when he gets through his darkest days

  • Matthew Pavlich scored 700 goals in 353 games in an amazing 17 season AFL career
  • The Fremantle legend never won a flag and lost the 2013 grand final
  • And he admitted he hadn’t won a premiership for years
  • Pavlich said mental health problems are a big problem in elite sports
  • But said a lot of positive things have been taken over the past two decades

Former AFL star Matthew Pavlich has admitted he felt his career was a “failure” during the darkest days of his mental health struggle.

Pavlich has scored 700 goals in a 17-year career in AFL that spanned 353 appearances for Fremantle, but the premiership proved frustratingly elusive for the attacker.

The Dockers have made it to the finals seven times in Pavlich’s career, losing two preliminary finals in 2006 and 2015 and falling in the Grand Final to Hawthorn in 2013.

Matthew Pavlich has admitted he felt his career was a ‘failure’ during the darkest days of his mental health struggle

And the 40-year-old admitted that the frustration resulting from never capturing the flag swallowed him.

“Dealing with failure and success every week was part of the job. The rollercoaster ride of an AFL career teaches you hard lessons early on,” he wrote in his… Nine column on RU OK? Day – a national day of action reminding Australians to check for someone they care about and who may be struggling with life.

“This general sense of failure, in my more vulnerable moments, comes from not winning an AFL premiere.”

Since retiring at the end of the 2016 season, Pavlich has gradually started to see his career in a different light.

Pavlich made 353 appearances for Fremantle during a stellar 17-year career in the AFL

Pavlich made 353 appearances for Fremantle during a stellar 17-year career in the AFL

“I can intellectually understand the fact that this is nonsense and the difficult feelings I still harbor need to be addressed and it’s not as binary as that,” he added.

‘I have not failed. But in the AFL you either won a flag or you didn’t. And as one of the “have nots” I will always wear that label.’

According to official government statistics, 20 percent of Australians struggle with mental health issues every year. Citing the tragic passing of the late former Broncos great Paul Green last month, Pavlich noted that high-profile athletes were not exempt from these issues.

“This purge does not discriminate. Regardless of your public profile or perceived level of success, the demons circling in your open mind can become debilitating,” he added.

He kicked 700 goals for the Dockers and became a club legend throughout his career

He kicked 700 goals for the Dockers and became a club legend throughout his career

But he never managed to win a flag despite making the finals in seven seasons

But he never managed to win a flag despite making the finals in seven seasons

“I’ve seen former teams, family and close friends, all of whom are high achievers with a great work ethic, sink to the depths of despair.”

However, the former Dockers star said positive steps had been taken over the past two decades, noting that perceptions of mental health within elite sport had changed.

‘When I was first drafted in 1999’ […] I knew nothing about mental health issues,” he said.

“During my time in the game and especially as AFLPA president, I saw great change and a shift in the recognition of the problem of mental health in sports, as well as in the solutions and treatment in this space.”

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