Brisbane Lions defender Justin Clarke has had to retire from football at the age of 22 due to concussion.
This article was originally published on May 12, 2015.
If you’re prone to feelings of inadequacy, stop reading now.
Aside from his promising AFL career, Brisbane Lions defender Justin Clarke has a pilot license and is studying electrical engineering.
Though his coaches continue to teach him about footy, there are also times when the roles are reversed and Clarke tutors them about academic matters.
Did we mention he finished high school with a perfect ATAR of 99.95? Oh, and he’s still just 21 years old.
As you might’ve guessed, Justin Clarke’s pathway to footy was different to most.
Hailing from a farm in the Flinders Ranges, some 300 kilometers north of Adelaide, Clarke played local footy while focusing on his schooling before being given a chance to play in the SANFL.
“It’s such an incredible feeling. When you get off the ground, you get an awesome sense of freedom” – Justin Clarke
“North Adelaide said, ‘look, why don’t you come down and play a game in the reserves for us’,” Clarke told Channel 7’s #Discovered team.
“So I went down there and managed to go alright, but really I was enthralled with [the idea of] becoming a pilot in the Air Force.”
Clarke had been flying long before he’d even got his driver’s license but – after completing all the necessary testing – was told that at 195cm, he was too tall.
“It was just pretty incredible that I was still able to get the opportunity with the Brisbane Lions at the end of it, given my [previous] choices.”
Clarke has never been one to focus strictly on footy and will continue to follow other passions.
“I’m currently studying electrical engineering… Without study I can send myself a little bit crazy. I’ve done a little bit of tutoring for a few of the coaches, which is something I really enjoy and am passionate about.”
Though he’s still only 21, Clarke hopes to teach some of the young Lions a thing or two along the way too.
“I think knowledge is such an incredible thing to be able to impart on someone else. I take great pleasure in trying to help kids coming through.”