THREE years after being put on notice by Port Adelaide, Sam Powell-Pepper says his elevation to the club's leadership group is one of his proudest moments.
In 2021, Port's football manager Chris Davies publicly challenged Powell-Pepper to show a proper commitment to his AFL career.
Davies' warning came at the end of a season when the West Australian was linked to a trade to West Coast, after taking a month away from Port to deal with personal issues in March and April.
The trade never eventuated and Powell-Pepper has flourished since 2022 to become one of the Power's key players.
But when Powell-Pepper was called into the club's offices last December, he admits: "I was a bit nervous."
"I wasn't sure what to expect," the 26-year-old told reporters on Wednesday.
Club hierarchy told Powell-Pepper he was in Port's revamped leadership group, headed by new captain Connor Rozee and new vice-captain Zak Butters.
"It's definitely one of my proudest moments so far," he said.
"I felt like I have earnt that spot ... I have worked my way up.
"Growing up I never really thought this could be an option.
"I have had a lot of support from a lot of people along the way but I have done a lot of hard work myself."
Powell-Pepper's turbulent 2021 followed a rocky second season in 2018 when he was suspended for three games - two by his club and one from the AFL - for inappropriately touching a woman at an Adelaide bar while he was drunk.
"I have always wanted to be that role model ... and the best player I can be as well," he said.
"But people, and myself, have those ups and downs in life and it's just about the way you come back from them.
"I felt like I have done that very well and a special mention to my partner and my two little girls as well, they keep me grounded.
"I am very happy and very grateful for everything I have in life."