NINE years after he was named the best young talent in the Bendigo Football-Netball League, Richmond’s Dustin Martin has been voted the No.1 player in the AFL by his peers.
Martin, who first played senior football with Castlemaine, was a runaway winner of the AFL Players’ Association most valuable player presented on Tuesday night.
The 26-year-old, whose football journey has included stints at Campbells Creek, Castlemaine, where he won the 2008 BFNL Rising Star award, and the Bendigo Pioneers, polled 1333 votes to win his first Leigh Matthews Trophy.
Runner-up was last year’s winner, Geelong’s Patrick Dangerfield, with a distant 776 votes.
"To earn the respect of your peers is very humbling," Martin said.
"I think all of the guys who got nominated are champions, so I'm very humbled.
"It's a bit surreal ... you've got to pinch yourself.
"I've just kept working hard on all areas of my game ... I've said before you just try and improve each year that you're in the competition."
Martin, who has re-signed with Richmond for seven years, is the red-hot favourite to win the Brownlow Medal on September 25.
Meanwhile, another former Bendigo Pioneer, Port Adelaide’s Ollie Wines, was named on the inter-change in the AFLPA Under-22 Team of the Year.