CHRISTIAN Salem’s road to 150 has been unique to say the least.
The defender has spent ten years in the red and blue and within those ten years has seen individual success on-field, injury woes off-field and the breaking of a 57-year premiership drought.
His AFL journey started back in 2013 after an impressive junior career in the Victorian state team led him to landing at the Dees with pick No.9 at the National Draft.
At 17 years old and with an exciting opportunity ahead of him, Salem’s career was delayed before it had even started.
In his first month at the club, he was sidelined with concerns around his thyroid.
While reflecting on his career to date, Salem admitted that it had been a tricky thing to navigate when initially starting his journey at the Dees.
“It was really tough,” Salem told Melbourne Media.
“Coming in, my first month at the club was affected by that, and then a few other injuries through my time, which has been pretty frustrating.”
Fast forward to February of this year, the 27-year-old was once again sidelined with similar thyroid concerns.
As a result, the defender missed the start of the 2023 season, continuing to be monitored closely for his thyroid levels to stabilise.
“It got to a pretty extreme point,” Salem said.
“It’s obviously a bit different to an injury where you know when you’re coming back.
The resilience of the Demon was once again tested after his long-awaited return was put on hold, with a torn meniscus serving him yet another set-back.
In true Salem form, he put his head down and pushed through rehabilitation with determination and optimism.
“To be honest, I always set my sights on coming back and getting back to my best, even if it took a bit of time,” Salem said.
“I’ve been lucky enough to have a great group around me supporting me the whole way and it’s all part of the journey.
“I wouldn’t change any of it.”
Now, 149 games into his career, with a premiership under his belt and what is hopefully all his bad luck behind him, Salem found himself being grateful for the turbulent journey that led him to where he is now.
“I was pretty fortunate to come in when Roosey (Paul Roos) had his first year…just being a part of that and to see where we’ve come from,” Salem said.
“We’re like a group of brothers here, we’ve been through some moments.
“Coming into [the competition], we were 17th, so being able to rise up with the same group has been something that is very special.
“Winning the premiership in 2021 was a highlight, but hopefully we’re on to bigger and better things leading into the rest of this year.”
While there were moments throughout his career where it may not have seemed like he'd get there, this Saturday, Salem will run out for the 150th time in the red and blue, when the Demons face the Saints at Marvel Stadium.
“I’m extremely grateful to get to 150,” Salem said.
“I’ve made a lot of memories along the way, lots of ups, lots of down but it’s been all worth it.”