DELISTED St Kilda tall Tom Lee harbours ambitions to once again play in the AFL after returning to WAFL club Claremont for 2017.

Lee was cut from the Saints’ list in October after being traded by Greater Western Sydney (which had pre-selected him under special rules for the expansion club) at the end of 2012. The Saints gave up No.12 in that year’s NAB AFL Draft and were handed Lee as well as No.24 (Nathan Wright) and No.43 (Josh Saunders) in return.

He was also on Adelaide’s list in 2009.

Lee, 25, told he was happy for the time being but expected his passion to play at the highest level to return soon enough.

"Part of me feels like I’ve still got a lot to give and I’d like to be able to give that on an AFL list. I still think I’ve got plenty left in me," Lee said.

"I’m not going to be constantly aiming for it but if I play well enough and I get a little bit of interest, that would be very much ideal."

Lee will start as a defender for the Tigers this year before eventually moving up forward as he builds confidence, or as the team requires. The club had hoped to acquire former Fremantle backman Alex Silvagni before he went to Carlton as a rookie.

However, Lee’s preferred position is in attack.

"You never lose the passion for kicking goals. Back’s good, you get to read the play, but up forward’s a bit more fun. You get to play the way you want to play. I definitely prefer playing up forward," he said.

He booted 60 goals for Claremont in 2012 and moved to the backline in the latter part of last year. Some of his best football came after he was allowed a full pre-season.

Injuries were a constant part of his time in the AFL. Both shoulders required reconstructions in 2013, along with a wrist operation. The following year he had a clean-out in the two shoulders while both ankles were reconstructed in 2015.

"I just felt like while I was at AFL level, I didn’t really get a good go at it," he said.

"But in saying that, I got enough of a go at it but I just didn’t feel like I got the best out of myself because my body didn’t really let me. That was frustrating.

"I wish it was different but that’s just how it is for some people unfortunately."

The inclusion of the No.12 selection in the trade brought some added pressure for Lee, although not from inside the club.

"The stigma of it, it was almost like I was pegged as a first-round draft pick, which I wasn’t really," he said.

"I’ll always have regrets that I never lived up to it, which is something I’ll have to live with. I hope the supporters don’t see me as a failed pick 12.

"It was a little bit of pressure but it didn’t play on my mind too much. The whole AFL system is built up with pressure so you get used to it."

Lee thought he was unlikely to be offered another deal after the club signed premiership defender Nathan Brown as a restricted free agent on a two-year deal from Collingwood.

"You’re always disappointed hearing that kind of news (being delisted). You see the signs and you see the writing on the wall but I was hopeful to get another year. In saying that, I’ve been there for four years. I’ve only played 17 games and didn’t really make my mark," he said.

"Once we got Nathan Brown in and (Jake) Carlisle came back, I pretty much accepted the fact that I wasn’t going to get another contract."

His relationship with the Saints remains good and he spoke to CEO Matt Finnis and COO Ameet Bains when he went back to Seaford to finalise everything.

"I didn’t want to leave on a sour note. The club’s been really good to me and the opportunity they gave me, I’ll always be grateful for. I’ve got no reason to be bitter whatsoever," he said.

"I feel like I went about it the right way and they went about it the right way and it all ended pretty smoothly, so I can’t complain about that."

He sees the club’s bid for a second premiership to sit alongside the 1966 premiership as on track.

"Based on what I’ve seen, it’s as good a tilt to the flag as we’ve had the last few years," he said.

"I really, really hope they have success because it makes you getting delisted worth something if it all pans out for them.

"I’ll be supporting them the whole way through and I can’t wait to watch them have a crack at a Grand Final in the next couple of years. I reckon they’re definitely capable of it."