DANNY Younan sees things from a glass half-full point of view – and it is an attitude that successfully carried him to a fulfilling career at VFL level.
Younan, 29, who retired from state league football last year after 104 matches with Coburg and Essendon, said it was the bad times that provided the biggest highlights – because they helped him grow as a person.
"I reckon my highlight was the darkest point of my career – that helped take me to another level, not just footy-wise, but in life as well," he said.
"When I left Coburg after a disagreement with the club, and it is a club I loved for dear life and never thought I would consider leaving, it stung me in the heart a bit," he said.
"Nothing against the club, I still love it dearly, but going to an AFL-aligned team like Essendon, you're playing with AFL players every week and it was a bit of a shock to the system … I had to find my way again and got thrown in the deep end. Thankfully I was able to keep grinding and still be there five years later and captain the place.
"When I was 19 I tore my ACL and missed a whole year of footy – as bad as injuries are, they're good in a way because they make you step back and be a little more appreciative of what you have in front of you."
Younan's career may not have yielded the ultimate reward of a premiership, but it did bring leading goalkicker awards at both clubs, as well as a third place in Essendon's best and fairest and VFL Team of the Year honours in 2018.
"2018-19 we played back-to-back prelims and that was a carrot for me to go again – that carnival atmosphere at North Port Oval, you can't explain it," he said.
"Obviously we didn't get there (Grand Final), which was devastating, but the players we had in that team and having 'D-Day' Dan Jordan as our coach will still be something I can look back on and be proud of."
The final two years didn't yield much footy for Younan, with COVID restrictions wiping out 2020 and a shoulder injury taking out half of last season, but he walked away having led the Bombers out as co-captain five times, including his 100th state league appearance in round one.
"(Captaincy) is not something that would have changed me as a person – I've always been in leadership groups, but to help some of the younger boys learn their craft and expose them to what it's like to play at a high level for a long time (was satisfying)," he said.
"I was very appreciative of that, and to be at a club like Essendon and what they were able to do for me was beautiful and I enjoyed every second."
Taylors Lakes product Younan has signed as a full-time playing assistant coach for Northern Football League club Bundoora, where he has been listed since joining the Bombers.
"(Reaching 100 games) is something I can look back on and be pretty proud of, because I never imagined myself playing that many games – when I first came into the VFL system it was just taking it a year as a time and keeping growing as a person," he said.
"VFL was everything for me to keep myself in a straight mind, and I ended up playing 100 games … a majority of people come into the system for two or three years and get spat out, but I was able to have enormous support from all my family and friends, my fiancée (Chantelle) – and that was the fire that kept me going.
"(Bundoora has) a pretty strong culture, so to go back there now as a full-time player under the coach Michael Ryan is something I'm looking forward to, hopefully to play some good footy with some good people."