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Richmond’s three-time premiership hero Kane Lambert has lifted the lid on his long-term health battles while carving out a career as one of the AFL’s great stories of perseverance.
Speaking to nib Health, the 30-year-old, who retired mid-season due to a chronic hip problem, also opened up about his unconventional path to the top league, which included a full year in 2010 after being neglected. in his first national and rookie draft out of school.
“It was a really big learning curve for me,” Lambert said of the decision to spend the year working full-time in a can factory and walking away from his AFL dream.
“There were people in my life who cared about Kane Lambert the person, and there were people who cared about Kane Lambert the footballer.
“I was playing football for the wrong reasons. It took a while to realize that. »
At 177cm, Lambert was one of the shortest players in the AFL throughout his career, but his tenacious attack on the football and pressure on tackles made him a crucial cog in the incredible era of the Tigers.
However, that wasn’t always the case, with Lambert revealing a broken collarbone suffered while playing for Northern Bullants (then Preston) in the VFL helped him come to terms with the state his body needed to be in. to play high-level football. .
“I was playing pretty decent football at this stage, although well undersized and probably struggling a bit physically, and inevitably I ended up breaking my collarbone halfway through the year,” Lambert said.
“It was my first experience with a serious injury… my body allowed me to perform at the level I wanted; without my health, I was unable to do all that I truly love. In the end, that comes first.
“[I realised] I’m going to enjoy it a lot more if I spend time on my strengths: my fitness, my speed, my agility, basically my overall body composition, to play football for a long time and be able to compete at the senior level.”
Lambert admitted he “will likely end up with a hip replacement” due to the chronic problem that forced him into retirement, but says he has no plans to shy away from a active lifestyle in the future.
He hopes his experience can help others deal with their own health battles in the future.
“I think the future Kane ends up with a hip replacement, with the chronic injuries that I have at this point. I want to lead a healthy active life and be a really good family man,” Lambert said.
“Without my health, I wouldn’t be sitting here and for me, that’s the priority. He must always come first.
“My health is my wealth. It’s something I will continue to do whether I play football or not.