Perez realises AFL dream despite injury

Roger Vaughan

Having given up a promising soccer career, the stakes were even higher last December for Flynn Perez when he did his knee.

The training injury meant a reconstruction and he had to sit out all this season ahead of the AFL draft.

But the Bendigo utility was one of several players to show that a long-term injury does not have to mean draft doom.

Brodie Kemp went to Carlton and Port Adelaide recruited Mitch Georgiades as first-round picks, despite their lengthy absences.

Then on Thursday night, North Melbourne recruited Perez with pick No.35 in the second round.

"It was a pretty long 12 months, watching all the footy," he said.

"I'm just really pumped to be at North and get an opportunity to play some footy again."

Perez said when he knew he needed a knee reconstruction, assurances from clubs such as North Melbourne that he was still on their radars were reassuring.

"Emotionally, it's pretty tough at the start," he said.

"As a 17-year-old you think the worst, that's your draft chances done.

"I had a few good people in my corner and a few recruiters reached out to me.

"It gave me the drive to put my head down and do the rehab as well as possible."

Perez is nearly back to full training, with contested work his next step.

He was in Australian junior soccer teams for three years before choosing Australian Rules.

"At an early age with soccer, it was very serious ... it just took its toll," Perez said.

Georgiades also sat out the season with a quad injury, while Kemp has been out of action since July due to a knee reconstruction.