CHRISTIAN Petracca has always had belief in himself as a player.

When he was selected by Melbourne with pick No.2 in the 2014 AFL Draft, the youngster from Warrandyte knew he wanted to be one of the best in the league one day. He knew he wanted to be someone people remembered.

Fast forward six years and Petracca is becoming just that.

In a season like no other, the 24-year-old has dominated for the Demons, averaging 23.6 disposals across 16 games.

He’s racked up 207 contested possessions – second only to teammate Clayton Oliver – and had a handy 102 score involvements.

But while there’s been plenty of talk around his fitness being the difference this year, Petracca takes an alternative view.

Speaking on The Athlete Diaries podcast, hosted by former Dee Guy Walker, the midfielder simply puts it down to his development, both as a person and a player.

“I’ve always known I’ve had the talent – I don’t think my belief and my expectations on myself have ever changed, since I was 17 or 18,” Petracca said

“This year is probably my biggest growth off the field.

“I’ve really developed as a person. I feel like I really understand who I am and I’m comfortable in my own skin now.

“There were a couple of years there where I was real hesitant to break games open or I wasn’t as confident in myself, but I feel like I’ve done the work.

“Now that I’m in the midfield – I just feel like I’m a lot more mature.

“I feel like my habits are at an elite level and Monday to Friday, I really prepare myself for the weekend.

“I feel like the confidence I’ve got in myself at the moment is probably because of the work I’ve done off field.”

While his development has been self-driven, Petracca has also benefitted from some great support networks.

The Demon has had several influences and mentors in recent years, which have helped shape him to be the person he is today.

And his senior coach is one he has a lot of gratitude for.

“Simon Goodwin – he’s been unreal,” Petracca said.

“He always gives me a lot of advice, about everything, and had belief in me when I probably didn’t have belief in myself – the confidence he has shown in me has been unbelievable.

“We sort of joke about it, but I do see him as a father-like figure.

“He’s someone I can speak to off the field about stuff and our conversations are probably more about off field than they are on field.

“Probably the biggest thing I’ve found as I’ve gotten older and probably more comfortable with my own opinion of myself is just narrowing your circle down.

“In my first three or four years, I was leaning on too many people – asking all of my friends, all of my family, asking my teammates [about my game].

“I probably only have the opinion of myself, and my partner and my coach now, to be honest.

“The smaller the circle you have, I feel like it’s the better.

“I do a lot of editing in terms of watching my own vision and I feel like I’m a pretty good learner and student of the game. I sort of know where I go wrong these days.”

To hear more of Petracca’s football journey, self-development and club culture, listen to the latest episode of The Athlete Diaries here.