THE age-old adage about individual awards in football is that it’s not the be all and end all, but they’re nice when they come along the way.
The first three years of Sam Walsh’s career has been littered with them, with Thursday night marking the pick of the bunch.
On the same day when he was crowned as the 22under22 captain and finished sixth in the AFLCA Champion Player of the Year, Walsh was named on the wing of the 2021 All-Australian side.
Becoming the first player born in the 2000s to make the AFL All-Australian team, it was the exclamation mark that Walsh - already - belongs among the game’s elite.
Speaking to Carlton Media after being informed of his selection, Walsh said being known as an All Australian was “a dream come true”.
“Growing up watching footy, that was always the one when it came to the end of the year that you’d have a fair bit of adoration for the guys that made that team,” Walsh said.
“It’s not about the individual awards, which is pretty cliche. But to be able to do that, I’m pretty proud of it.
“To be named amongst some of the big names in the competition that you look up to and like to compete against each week is a great honour.”
To go with his All-Australian honour, Walsh’s 92 votes in the AFLCA Champion Player of the Year award was the second most by any Blue in history: only two shy of Marc Murphy’s 94 which saw him win the award in 2011.
After winning the 2019 NAB AFL Rising Star, the 2019 AFLPA Best First-Year Player and the 2020 AFLCA Best Young Player Award, Walsh’s sights are already set on further improvement and making his teammates around him better.
“I try to improve myself each week and each season. I feel like if I’m able to do that, it’ll hold me in good stead,” he said.
“Hopefully as we keep building as a team, there are more and more guys that are recognised for their work.
“I’ve got a lot of support and had a lot of help to get to this point, especially from my teammates. For me to be able to get that this year is great for me and everyone that has helped me along the way.”