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In retirement, Michael Johnson will go down as one of the greatest players to pull on the Fremantle jumper.
And there is no doubt that he is currently the greatest Indigenous player to spend their career at Fremantle, a club with a proud Indigenous history.
Despite being one of the youngest clubs in the AFL, Fremantle has seen more games played by Indigenous players than any other, and Johnson’s 244 outstanding games contributes significantly to that total.
Johnson said that the club’s early Indigenous players, particularly those who were still at Fremantle when he arrived in 2003, laid the groundwork for his career.
“The Indigenous boys when I first got drafted, they’re the ones who took me under their wing, and they’ve taught me a lot of things that I’ve passed on to the current crop of Indigenous players,” Johnson said.
“I’m one of the lucky players in the AFL to play with the team they supported as a youngster.
“I remember when I first got drafted there was some great Indigenous players on the list at the time, Jeff Farmer, Des Hedland, Troy Cook, Roger Hayden, Antoni Grover, Dion Woods.
“They’re the guys that I looked up to before being drafted. To live my dream and play with these players will be something special to look back on.
“I felt that learning from those guys in my early years has helped me become a better player and better role model for the current Indigenous players on the list.
“Hopefully, I’ve left a mark on their journey.”
Johnson said he will miss being at the club with his current teammates but knows that this bond will continue in retirement.
“I’ve made some really good friendships,” Johnson said.
“Michael Walters, Stephen Hill, Danyle Pearce, who is another one who’s agreed to move on from the club.
“These guys, I’ll always remember and we’ll be brothers forever.”