YOUNG Crow key defender Daniel Talia has become the first Adelaide player to win the NAB AFL Rising Star award (the Ron Evans Medal).
Talia claimed the award after an impressive season in which he played all 22 games for the Crows, mainly at full-back.
He won with 43 votes, followed by Greater Western Sydney's Jeremy Cameron (35 votes) and Mitch Wallis of the Western Bulldogs (19 votes).
"It's a huge honour," Talia said when presented with the medal.
"I don't think I really expected it, but I feel really privileged to be here. It's good to get back home today and see my family and friends, and I'm obviously thrilled to win it."
Emerging stars keep their feet on the ground
The 20-year-old had a breakout year in his third season with the Crows, often taking on the opposition's best forward and beating them. But after accepting the award, he was quick to turn his attention to the Crows' final against the Swans on Saturday.
"We trained yesterday [Tuesday] and we'll train tomorrow, so tomorrow we'll put today behind us and focus on this week because it's pretty important," Talia said.
"I am a bit nervous. I get nervous before every game but I'm more excited. I really can't wait to experience September at the highest level and play on some really good players.
"I'll be putting the year that I've had behind me and really focusing on the next four weeks. I suppose that's crunch time and when you really need to perform."
Talia was surprised that he would return to Adelaide as the AFL's latest Rising Star recipient. But even when discussing his individual honour, Talia managed to deflect the attention back to his team.
"I'm really stoked and surprised that I won it. I don't know if a defender's won it before," he said.
"I want to thank Adelaide, the team and all the players, because they're the ones who have supported me and help make my role a lot easier.
Earlier, he said the award was a win for defenders and "Ben Rutten, he loves defenders winning awards ..."
He becomes the first key defender to win the award since Melbourne's Jared Rivers in 2004.
Talia was taken by the Crows with the 13th pick at the 2009 NAB AFL Draft.
A knee injury cut short his first year on the list, while an Achilles injury delayed the start to his 2011 campaign before he returned to play the last nine games of the season in Adelaide's senior team.
The departure of Phil Davis for GWS and, 12 months earlier, Nathan Bock to Gold Coast opened an opportunity in Adelaide's defence that Talia has made his own.
The young Crow has held down a traditional defensive role this year, not racking up big statistical numbers but taking pride in his spoiling ability.
That ability has earned him the nickname 'Presti' (after former Collingwood full-back Simon Prestigiacomo) from teammates Brent Reilly and Michael Doughty.
"I had a lot of injuries as a kid growing up and I've always had to do that extra work to get back on the park. I try to put everything into my career, and football's pretty much given me everything I've got."
Talia is also the first graduate of the elite Calder Cannons TAC Cup team to have secured a Rising Star nomination. Other Cannons alumni include Dane Swan, Paul Chapman, Ryan O'Keefe, Jude Bolton, Darren Milburn and James Kelly.
Talia combined his junior football with his duties playing for Assumption College - the same school that produced AFL stars Shane Crawford, Bill Brownless, Peter Crimmins and Peter 'Crackers' Keenan.
He has good pedigree, with his grandfather Harvey Stevens playing in Footscray's 1954 premiership team and his younger brother Michael playing four games for the Bulldogs this season.
NAB AFL RISING STAR VOTES
Daniel Talia (Adelaide) 43
Jeremy Cameron (GWS) 35
Mitch Wallis (Western Bulldogs) 19
Adam Treloar (GWS) 15
Steven Motlop (Geelong) 11
Tom McDonald (Melbourne) 7
Josh Caddy (Gold Coast) 3
Stephen Coniglio (GWS) 2
Luke Holmesby is a reporter for AFL Media. Follow him on Twitter: @AFL_Luke