Lachie Neale left his wife Julie choking back tears after a beautiful tribute during his Brownlow Medal winner's speech on Sunday night.
Neale polled 31 votes from 17 games to win the AFL's most prestigious individual award, rising to greatness after being warned he risked becoming a "fat little forward pocket" on the AFL scrapheap.
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The Brisbane Lions star was voted best on ground in a remarkable 10 matches during 2020, fashioning an unassailable lead in Sunday's Brownlow count after 16 rounds of the 18-round season.
The 27-year-old said he owed much of his success to his "amazing" wife, who he described as "the most selfless person" he knows after she gave up her own business in Perth to move with the former Fremantle Dockers star to Brisbane.
“My wife Jules, she’s an amazing human being,” the former Fremantle player said.
“Not many people probably know but she owned a salon in Perth before we decided to move to Brisbane. She had to sell that to come over here and follow my dreams.
“She was doing very well for herself over there but she always puts me ahead of herself when she shouldn’t have to.
“She’s the most selfless person I know and my biggest support, so thank you very much Jules, I love you.”
— robert. (@FierceRobert) October 18, 2020
Neale also had some special words of thanks for his parents - including his dad who he revealed could probably "reel off the last 40 Brownlow medallists".
“My Mum, Amanda, is an amazing person, an amazing woman, I’m very proud to be her son. She’s done so much for me and so much for my siblings as well,” he said.
“My Dad Robbie, our relationship has grown and developed every year and I can honestly say now he’s one of my best mates.
“My step-dad Brett, his support for me throughout the journey has been amazing, He’s such a good man and looks after our family very well.”
"This is something I've looked up to ever since I was a kid," Neale added.
"My dad can reel off the last 40 Brownlow medallists I think.
"He might have a tear in his eye (doing it now).
"He loves his footy. I learned the love of the game from him."
Neale runs away with 2020 award
Neale, who grew up in the small town of Kybybolite on the SA-Victoria border, took his game to another level during his second season at the Lions and was always going to be hard to stop.
The gun midfielder, who had been backed into $1.25 favouritism, easily finished ahead of Travis Boak (21 votes) with Christian Petracca and Jack Steele (both 20 votes) equal third in a ceremonial night that was as predictable as it was peculiar.
AFL's night of nights was staged across venues in Adelaide, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney because of COVID-19.
The highlight of Neale's career came one day after Geelong ended his side's campaign, ruining the Lions' hopes of reaching their first grand final since 2004 - at their Gabba home.
"I've felt pretty flat and I wasn't really excited or anything for tonight until the count started," he told reporters.
"I wanted to win a premiership this year, that was my main focus."
Port Adelaide veteran Boak was voted best on ground in his side's season-opening win over Gold Coast and topped the leaderboard after three rounds, having tallied eight votes at that stage.
Neale started a streak of four consecutive three-vote performances in round two to claim the outright lead in the count after five rounds and was never headed.
He joins Gary Ablett Jnr (2009), Patrick Dangerfield (2016) and Dustin Martin (2017) as the only players to have collected the Brownlow medal plus AFL Players' Association and AFL Coaches' Association awards in the same season.
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