“Well done, James, you’ll play a lot of games of AFL.”
Dublin Brisbane Lions star James Madden revealed a brief chat he had with Australian Football League legend Leigh Matthews after scoring his first senior goal.
Matthews is officially recognised by the AFL as the ‘best player of the 20th century’, a Legend in the Australian Football Hall of Fame and is one of the most successful AFL coaches of all-time.
James Madden on Leigh Matthews encouragement.
Brisbane defeated Richmond by 28 points over the weekend, with Madden scoring his first AFL goal in just his second senior game, after making his debut against Port Adelaide earlier this month.
The 21-year-old met the football legend after the game, and while he was delighted at the time, he didn’t realise the magnitude of the comment until the following day.
“I just walked down from the dressing room after the game, and he told me, ‘Well done, James, you’ll play a lot of games of AFL’,” Madden told reporters on Tuesday.
“It was pretty special. It didn’t really hit me until the next day afterwards when I thought about what he’d said. To come from someone like that, it’s pretty special.
“Obviously when I came over here, I didn’t know too much about Leigh, as I didn’t watch AFL.
“After being here for three years, I know how big a name he is in the sport so that was incredibly special.”
Talk about jets!
— AFL (@AFL) May 21, 2021
James Madden on breaking AFL Draft Combine 20-metre speed record.
The Ballyboden St. Enda’s clubman caught the eye of the Lions recruiting staff in December 2017 when he broke the all-time AFL Draft Combine 20-metre sprint record at the European Combine in UCD, running it in 2.69 seconds.
“I just, kind of, did the combine, I wasn’t expecting to beat any records,” Madden continued.
“I always knew I was a bit quick from playing Gaelic football, it was a trait of mine I always used.
“But then, breaking the combine record, it’s something I’ve realised I need to start using over here and I have been using.
“I had been doing a small bit of athletics back in Ireland but I didn’t enjoy it too much – I prefer a team sport.”
James Madden on two-week hotel quarantine.
The former Dublin minor recalled this time last year when he was doing his two-week hotel quarantine, unsure of what the future in Australia would hold in the short-term.
“I think this time last year, I was in my two weeks quarantine in a hotel,” Madden added.
“But it’s a massive difference from where I was then, sitting in a hotel, probably knew I wasn’t going to play AFL that year. And now, I’ve played two games this year, so it’s definitely a big turnaround.
“I always thought I’d try to come back but it was more a question of if I would be able to come back – I wasn’t an Australian citizen and that sort of thing.
“I’d just started this journey and I wanted to see it out. I always have Ireland in my mind and I would love to go back and play Gaelic football one day.
“But for the moment, I’m pretty determined to keep going with the AFL because I really enjoy it as well.”
Finally, the Dublin ‘speedster’ was asked what his future goals in the AFL over the next few years.
“Next three years I hope to play another 20 games, even if it is only 20 games,” Madden added.
“There were always thoughts that I’d never get there and I’d just go home because it is an unforgiving sport.
“There were times when I thought I’d never make it, especially with our defenders being so good. We’ve a very good defensive side so it was certainly a thing in the back of my mind.”