Neville Jetta had had a brilliant season for the Dees. Picture: AAP Images
Neville Jetta had had a brilliant season for the Dees. Picture: AAP Images

From delisted Dee to living finals dream

THE revolving door at Melbourne has swept up almost everyone in its path.

Since 2009, the club has had six senior coaches, four different presidents, two chief executives and experienced a complete turnover of the playing list aside from two names.

One of those players is courageous co-captain Nathan Jones.

The other is unheralded defender Neville Jetta, who himself was shown the door this time five years ago but has remarkably resurrected his career from the ashes after being thrown a rookie-list lifeline.

"At the end of 2013 I got delisted," Jetta said this week as he prepares for his first AFL final against Geelong on Friday night.

"To see a lot of coaches go through, a lot of players go through, it probably is scary to a point because I was almost out the door as well.

 

Neville Jetta slips away from Joe Daniher. Picture: Wayne Ludbey
Neville Jetta slips away from Joe Daniher. Picture: Wayne Ludbey

 

"But to still have Nathan around to talk to about some of the stuff we went through but also to experience stuff that we're going to experience going forward is something we're looking forward to."

An exit interview which was far from glowing left Jetta with plenty to weigh up at the end of 2013.

He was 23, had played only five AFL games that season to take his career tally to 41 in five seasons and had wife Samantha and two-year-old daughter Nalani at home to think about.

The option of giving up the AFL dream and returning home to Western Australia was very much in play.

"I had a lot of injuries and ups and downs in my first four or five years and got to a point where I felt like I was being a bit selfish with chasing my dream," Jetta said.

"The support from my family to keep going through that year and not to just chuck it in and go back home was probably a big factor. Once I got the support from them to be able to keep continuing my dream I gave my all.

 

 

Jetta has been one of the reasons for the Dees’ rise in 2018. Pic: Michael Klein
Jetta has been one of the reasons for the Dees’ rise in 2018. Pic: Michael Klein

 

"I wanted to almost pay my family back for backing me.

"It could have been one year and I could have been flicked out but luckily it has worked out."

Having played a variety of positions during his first five seasons, Jetta finally locked one down in defence in the VFL in 2013 season, showing enough for incoming senior coach Paul Roos to grant him a rookie list spot after the initial delisting.

Since then Jetta has played 97 of a possible 110 AFL games and has missed just one match in the past three years due to a suspension.

"Probably part of that was just having one position to lock down in," Jetta said of the turnaround.

"I probably floated in and out of half-forward, wing, a little bit of midfield, a little bit of halfback and was probably OK at every position but wasn't really, really good at any.

"Now I really pride myself on consistency and being someone who plays his role week-in, week-out and not letting the team down, especially in my role down back."

Five years on from that delisting, Nalani is now seven, the Jetta family has grown to four members with the arrival of son Kyree three years ago and Melbourne's No. 39 has a contract until the end of 2021 after being in the All-Australian conversation this season.

 

Neville Jetta is more than above average. Pic: AAP
Neville Jetta is more than above average. Pic: AAP

 

Topping off the rags-to-riches tale is the fact that Jetta is set to play the first final of his 138-game career on Friday night, a milestone that he hopes will be just the beginning for the young Demons.

"This has been one of the most enjoyable years for me," Jetta said.

"Wins help a lot but to be able to come into the footy club every day and keep learning, keep improving and for the coaches to keep driving that is really good.

"I'm so very entrenched with the footy club here and I'm just looking forward to the future in the next three years and seeing what we can achieve."

NEVILLE JETTA'S 2018 SEASON

Ave. Disposals: 12 (below average)

Ave. Contested Possessions: 5.2 (above average)

Ave. Disposal Efficiency: 84.4 (elite)

Ave. Intercept Marks: 1.7 (above average)

Ave. Tackles: 3.2 (elite)

Ave. Spoils: 2.5 (above average)

Ave. One Percenters: 3.1 (above average)



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