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Lekkas looks to the future

Written by: Dan Oakes
The Age: 13-02-2020

Hawthorn’s Angelo Lekkas yesterday drew the curtains on his 180-game AFL career, seven months to the day since he had a stroke in a pre-season practice match against Fremantle.

The 29-year-old, who recovered against the odds to play the last nine games of the season, said he had been given the all-clear by the doctors to play next year, but he was not prepared to risk a recurrence of the condition. Only two weeks ago Lekkas’ manager indicated that his client intended playing for another season.

“There’s a lot of question marks there. Health-wise, the option was there to play and I could have played, but the way I felt this year I didn’t want to go through that again,” Lekkas said at Glenferrie Oval.

“I just feel with everything I’ve gone through this year and the way it’s panned out, it’s just my time to leave the game, and I’ve got no regrets or problems with that.

“My intention from now is to start the next chapter of my life with enthusiasm and optimism.

“This is the end of my time as a player but it’s not the end of my time to make a contribution to the game I love.”

It was a gracious departure from the game, with Lekkas paying tribute to the club for the support it gave him during his recovery.

He described his 10 years at the top level of the game as “a blessing”.

“To me it’s been more than a game, it’s been in many ways a teacher of life,” Lekkas said.

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“The passion for it I’ve had my whole life, ever since I was a child, I still have today. In particular my respect and admiration for the Hawthorn Football Club remains extremely high.

“The support and the way they conducted themselves with my situation throughout the year, I could not ask for any more from the current players, the coaches and all the personnel.”

Coach Alastair Clarkson described Lekkas as a “fantastic servant of this football club” and confirmed that the club had been open to the idea of him playing on. He also raised the prospect of the now ex-Hawk returning to Glenferrie in another capacity.

“Obviously we need to do some work in regard to what that role will be, whether it’s in administration or whether it’s in a coaching capacity or mentoring role with some of our young players,” Clarkson said.

Lekkas said the 2001 finals series, in which the club got to within two kicks of a grand final berth, was the on-field highlight of his career. But he said camaraderie was what the game was all about, and that you did not always realise that until later.

¦ 1996-2005:180 games for Hawthorn
¦ 1997: AFL Rising Star nominee
¦ 1999: Pre-season premiership
¦ 2002: Third in best-and-fairest
¦ 2002: Represented Australia v Ireland
¦ 2003: Second in best-and-fairest




Ange strongly believes that mediation should be a part of any footy training program. Young footy players are under so much pressure in the digital age they need more help than ever to keep their mental health in check.
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