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New Fremantle rookie signing Leno Thomas has long dreamed of becoming an AFL footballer.
But the versatile defender from Warmun, about 3000km north-east of Perth, never expected these dreams to become a reality.
So it was a wide-eyed 18-year-old who arrived at the Freo headquarters on Thursday, a place he is very familiar with after his time in the Next Generation Academy.
“It’s amazing. It’s a dream come true from when I was a kid. It’s so, so good to be at Freo,” Thomas said.
“I wasn’t expecting this at all, I just dreamed of it. I just kept growing up and showing up.”
Thomas only started learning English when he moved to Perth as a 13-year-old, and he has since completed his schooling at Clontarf.
He made headlines in September when he made a game-saving smother to help maintain Claremont’s five-point lead in the dying seconds of the 2019 WAFL colts Grand Final against Peel.
Thomas said he was thankful for all of the love and support he has received from his family and hometown.
“I pretty much grew up in Warmun all of my life,” Thomas said.
“It’s a small community. Footy is a big thing back there, everyone loves it. It’s a great community.
“There’s a lot of people congratulating me at the moment. I’m just thankful to my family.
“I’ve got two sisters down here and one brother. I gave them a call today and told them about it. I told my Mum last night and they were really happy about it.”
Thomas had the chance to chat to a number of his new teammates in his first day at Freo, including Stephen Hill, Joel Hamling, Reece Conca, Sean Darcy and Andrew Brayshaw.
“They just said congratulations. They said that the work has paid off and now it’s time to start again. I really appreciated that,” Thomas said.
“I know my way around here, I’ve been here (as a part of the NGA) for a while. I can’t wait to get stuck into it.”