Zak Butters celebrates after the match between Essendon and Port Adelaide at the MCG on July 1, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

PORT Adelaide star Zak Butters has crowned a stunning breakout season, with the tough and classy midfielder taking out the AFL Coaches' Association Champion Player of the Year award on Wednesday night.

Butters has emerged among the competition's brightest young talents this season, spearheading the Power's rapid rise into the AFL's top four through his silky skills and brute force in the midfield.


The diminutive Port Adelaide onballer enjoyed a career-best campaign and tallied 109 coaches votes across the year, narrowly edging out Bulldogs captain Marcus Bontempelli (102 votes) and Collingwood young gun Nick Daicos (99) to claim the honour.

In doing so, the supremely talented 22-year-old became the first Port Adelaide player since Robbie Gray in 2014 to claim the AFLCA gong and the youngest player since Richmond's Trent Cotchin in 2012 to do so.

Butters had trailed Daicos by 22 votes when the Collingwood youngster suffered an unfortunate season-ending knee injury, before racking up 17 votes in the campaign's final fortnight to leapfrog Bontempelli and secure the award.


It comes after a season in which Butters averaged career-highs for disposals (27.5 per match), marks (five), goals (13 for the year), clearances (4.6), contested possessions (10.7), metres gained (431.5m) and score involvements (6.9).

That resulted in the youngster securing coaches votes in 16 of the 23 matches he played throughout the campaign, while he also recorded a perfect 10-vote game in a further seven matches.

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"Zak is an exceptional person and the ultimate professional, and we are seeing the rewards this season of all the work he puts in," Power coach Ken Hinkley said in a statement on Wednesday.

"Considering his size, he is fearless with the way he attacks the ball, and he’s got this amazing ability to make special things happen for our team and to influence a game like not many others can. 

"I believe that being voted by the coaches as the League's Champion Player is one of the highest honours a player can receive, and I could not be prouder that Zak has been recognised with this award." 

Daicos was also recognised by winning the AFL Coaches' Association Best Young Player Award, claiming a resounding victory to fully recognise the gun midfielder's remarkable first two seasons in the competition.

The honour, which tallies the coaches votes across a player's first two seasons in the League, saw Daicos claim 129 votes to easily clear Essendon's Nic Martin (50 votes) and Port Adelaide's Jason Horne-Francis (34) in second and third respectively.

Nick Daicos celebrates a goal during Collingwood's clash against Adelaide in round 15, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos


109 - Zak Butters (Port Adelaide)
102 - Marcus Bontempelli (Western Bulldogs)
99 - Nick Daicos (Collingwood)
98 - Christian Petracca (Melbourne)
91 - Lachie Neale (Brisbane)
88 - Errol Gulden (Sydney)
87 - Connor Rozee (Port Adelaide)
86 - Caleb Serong (Fremantle)
77 - Toby Greene (GWS Giants)
77 - Jack Sinclair (St Kilda)


Nick Daicos - 129 votes
Nic Martin - 50
Jason Horne-Francis - 34