CHAMPION midfielder Dustin Martin has elevated himself to an unmatched level of greatness, becoming the first player to win a third Norm Smith Medal.
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The Richmond superstar, who spearheaded his team's third premiership in four seasons, stamped himself as the modern game's greatest finals performer with four goals and 21 disposals against Geelong.
After matching the achievements of dual Norm Smith medallists Gary Ayres, Andrew McLeod and Luke Hodge last season, Martin joined a club all of his own at the Gabba on Saturday night.
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The player of his generation, he became a triple premiership player and was presented with Norm Smith Medal by Port Adelaide's 2004 winner Byron Pickett.
He was unanimously adjudged best on ground, polling 15 votes to win the medal from teammate Jayden Short (six), Shane Edwards (four), Geelong's Mitch Duncan (three) and Nathan Broad (two).
The defining quality of Martin's match was his ability to impose himself on the contest when the Tigers most needed it. It is what made this arguably his best performance in a decider.
He had 29 possessions and two goals against Adelaide in 2017, and 22 and four against Greater Western Sydney last year's rout.
After winning his first Norm Smith Medal in 2017, Martin spoke about the freedom he felt playing football, not having to worry about anything else.
Winning his third premiership was "surreal", with the individual accolade an added bonus.
"It doesn't feel real," he said on Saturday night. "I'm just so grateful to be part of an unbelievable group. I'm lost for words to be honest."
With his team trailing by 21 points late in the second quarter on Saturday, Martin lifted and produced the first of his four goals.
Geelong defender Jake Kolodjashnij was sweating on him, but he pushed free and snapped truly over his shoulder. It was a big moment the Tigers could build on.
His second, late in the third quarter, gave the Tigers a lead they would never surrender, keeping his feet in the contest, breaking free, and converting with the inside out kick that comes so naturally to the skilled craftsman.
Martin sealed the match with a brilliant bouncing goal from beyond 50m and his fourth was the cream on top with a touch of symbolism, shaking off rival superstar Patrick Dangerfield in the pocket to set the Tiger Army into a frenzy.
The 29-year-old had a game-high nine score involvements and his five inside 50s and 457 metres gained ranked No.2 at the Tigers behind teammate Short.
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For Geelong coach Chris Scott, Martin was "peerless" in the way he played. The Cats drew up multiple plans to combat him, but none worked.
"Sometimes you can do not a lot wrong and just get beaten by class," Scott said.
A ruthless competitor who finds a new level in big games, Martin's record in finals since 2017 is phenomenal.
The central figure in this Tigers dynasty, he has averaged 22.7 disposals and 2.3 goals in 11 finals.
Australian Football Hall of Fame Legends Leigh Matthews and Malcolm Blight each voted to give Martin his third Norm Smith Medal on Saturday night. It would appear to be only a matter of time until the immortal Tiger joins them in that exclusive club.
2020 Norm Smith Medal voting
15 - Dustin Martin (Rich)
6 - Jayden Short (Rich)
4 - Shane Edwards (Rich)
3 - Mitch Duncan (Geel)
2 - Nathan Broad (Rich)
Leigh Matthews (Chair) – D Martin 3, N Broad 2, S Edwards 1
Lauren Arnell – D Martin 3, J Short 2, M Duncan 1
Malcolm Blight – D Martin 3, M Duncan 2, S Edwards 1
Damian Barrett – D Martin 3, J Short 2, S Edwards 1
Peter Ryan – D Martin 3, J Short 2, S Edwards 1