LEVI Casboult is realistic about where his career is at. Even more so, he’s realistic about where his career was.
Written off by the majority of the football world, Casboult wasn’t oblivious to the outside noise: in fact, he was anything but.
It motivated him to produce a career-best year at senior level, with a shift in mindset doing the trick.
Speaking to Carlton Media, he detailed just how close he felt he was to his AFL life coming to an end.
“I felt like I was halfway out the door, to be honest. I thought last year might have been my last year,” Casboult said.
“I was coming out of contract, I finished the year before out of the side and, with the conversations that I’d had, I felt like it could have been my last.
“I sat down with my wife and we stripped it all back: at the end of the day, I’m a big kid who loves playing footy. You don’t want to finish stressing about it too much and not having fond memories.”
It was that no-regrets, no-stress approach which was the catalyst for what was, quite simply, a year of renaissance for Carlton’s big man.
But Casboult has been around the football world long enough to know that the highs - and the lows - aren’t permanent.
Fresh off a top-five finish in the John Nicholls Medal, Casboult is hoping to replicate that form in 2020.
He arrived at Carlton as a 19-year-old and has matured into a man, a husband and a father. He’s not ready to let it go just yet.
Friends: You okay?— Carlton FC (@CarltonFC) October 18, 2019
Bluebaggers: Yeah I’m fine
Highlights | Levi's career-best year
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“It’s about trying not to get complacent: I’ve seen the other side of it, of how quick it can change. You come off a good year and automatically there’s that little bit of expectation,” he said.
“Carlton definitely has [been my home]. It’s a scary thought to think that one time at some stage in the next few years, it’s going to be gone.
“It’s something that I’ve known for almost half my life, that it’s going to be a big hole to fill.”
It’s ironic Casboult used those exact words given he was the very man who filled any hole on the ground last year, “finding his niche” whether it was up forward, down back or in the ruck.
It has added to Casboult’s personal journey in the Navy Blue — a journey which began from the beginning as a lifelong Carlton supporter.
When quizzed about what it meant to be continuing his career at his boyhood club, the description came to mind in an instant.
“There’s a lot of pride,” he said.
“There’s a lot of pride in the jumper, a lot of pride in what I’ve been able to achieve in the jumper and for the jumper.
“My name is on my locker so to be able to do that for another year is awesome.”
With the off-season marking a decade since his arrival at Ikon Park, Casboult is realistic about it “not being all smooth sailing” for Carlton supporters.
His resurgence on the ground coincided with a groundswell of support and noise by the Carlton faithful: in particular, his every disposal was met with a roar during his best-on-ground performance against St Kilda in Round 22.
“All through my career, the Carlton faithful has been awesome. I’ve had my issues with a few things but the Carlton supporters love the Club and love their footy,” he said.
“When we started winning those games in the second half of last year, us as players were having fun and you could sense that the crowd was behind you and enjoying it.”
As he prepares for his 30th birthday in March, Casboult has known for a while that it’s time to pass on the learnings of a 10-year career to the next generation.
While admitting it’s “probably not natural in [his] personality”, he’s doing everything he can for Carlton to prosper in year to come.
“I’m trying to lead by example and help in the little nuances of the game when I can. I’ve been around for a while and I feel like I’ve got a wealth of knowledge to share: I’m trying to impart that where I can.”
Of course, it’s not just the next Carlton generation which Casboult is nurturing.
The father of Lonnie, Arlo and - most recently - Goldie is juggling the weight of being a dad and being a footballer.
He admits he hasn’t quite got the balance right yet… but he’s getting there.
“It does get tough: footy on a personal level can be very selfish. I still haven’t nailed it and I’m still trying to work that out,” he said.
“My wife will attest to that, I have good days and bad days.
"It’s about constantly learning and adapting: it’s the same as anything in football and life.”
For Casboult's full comments, watch the video at the top of the article.