Former Geelong and Sydney forward Daniel Menzel had a career full of highs, but also his fair share of lows. He reflects on his AFL career and the lessons he took from the injuries he suffered, as well as providing aflplayers.com.au an update on an exciting new venture he has just launched.
For all the numerous setbacks he endured throughout his 80-game career, Daniel Menzel still looks back at his AFL journey through a positive lens.
That’s how he’s wired – he sees the good in things and made the most of the opportunities that were presented to him.
“People always asked whether I’d thought about giving it in or said to me, ‘Maybe it’s not going to work out for you,'” Menzel told aflplayers.com.au.
“I always thought at the time that I didn’t want to be sitting in the grandstand one day and thinking, ‘Maybe I could have made it back out there.’
“I sit here now and go, ‘No matter what happens, I did put it all in and I did make it back,’ and that’s something that sits very comfortably with me.”
Menzel will undoubtedly go down in AFL annals as one of the unluckiest players to ever play the game.
An immensely promising career was cut down in its prime, with the former Geelong and Sydney forward rupturing the anterior cruciate ligament in his knees (left and right) on four separate occasions.
Despite the injuries to his knee, Menzel booted 143 goals in his 80 games and was regarded as one of the most mercurial forwards in the competition after he was selected by the Cats with pick No.17 in the 2009 AFL Draft.
“That’s something I am really proud of that I did get back to that elite level and play at that level for a number of years,” he said.
The experiences and knowledge base Menzel has taken from his AFL journey are now being harnessed in a few different ways on and off the field.
At the start of this year, Menzel signed with SANFL club Central District as a player with the additional responsibility of being an assistant coach and joining his brother, Troy, the ex-Carlton player, at the club.
With the COVID-19 pandemic putting a halt to the SANFL season, Menzel has turned his attention to launching a sports podcast with KOTN Media called Menz World of Sport.
The podcast is a broad look at sports around the world, with Menzel an avid follower of the NBA, NFL, English Premier League and college basketball and football.
Menzel will dip into his own experiences at the elite level, but he doesn’t want the podcast to be AFL-centric. Rather he wants to educate the Australian audience about some sports they may not necessarily be as familiar with.
The first episode, which dropped earlier this month, featured former St Kilda player and signed Detroit Lions punter Arryn Siposs.
“I watch a lot of American sports shows and a lot of people have podcasts these days and this is where we came up with the idea of having a weekly sports wrap to break down everything around the world,” he said.
“For your casual fan who follows every sport, but not in depth, it’ll give them an overall picture of what’s happening around the world in every sport.”
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With a bit of downtime and no footy on at the moment, I decided to start up a sports podcast through @kotnmedia I love watching sports from all over the world and so in this podcast, I’ll give an insight into what is transpiring in the world of sport, talking with guests from different sporting fields around the globe & various sports related top 10s. 1st podcast is up and running with ex St Kilda footballer, turned @detroitlionsnfl NFL punter @arrynsiposs joining us and I count down my top 10 sporting moments of the decade. Available on @spotifyaunz & @applepodcasts or www.kotnmedia.com now!
The show is broken down into three segments – a weekly sporting wrap, an interview with an elite athlete and Menzel’s top-10 list each covering a different topic.
The first ‘top-10’ was Menzel’s most memorable sporting moments of the decade, while future shows are likely to feature his athletes of the decade as well as a focus on the venues he’s attended.
“With everything that’s happening with Coronavirus people are actually craving sport and so that’s why we thought it was a good idea to launch it now and get a bit out there and have something to talk about because there’s not a lot to watch at the moment,” he said.
“There’s not a lot of Australian-made podcasts that encapsulate world sport. You might get listeners who are interested in AFL and you might get more who are more interested in the Premier League, NFL or even cricket and it gets them in to listen about their sport but they also get more knowledge about other sports and that’s where the concept stemmed from.”
Menzel has some existing media experience having featured on the Fox Footy-produced documentary ‘A Long Way Home’ that documented his recovery from his knee injuries, as well as appearing on radio and writing a column for the Geelong Advertiser as a Cats player.
The podcast, his MTMF business and coaching are all areas of interest and important for his “personal development” as Menzel works out exactly what he wants to do post-footy.
“I’m just trying to sit down with different people and pick their brain on pathways I could go down and hopefully over the next six months see what transpires and make decisions from there,” he said.
Playing at AFL level is still in his sights, although Menzel is realistic about where he stands particularly with the uncertainty surrounding list sizes for 2021.
The groin surgery he had at the start of his single season on Sydney’s list has meant he is now pain free after struggling for a number of years with the debilitating injury.
“I believe my body is in as good a shape as it’s ever been in and it’s something I believe I could do” he said.
“If the opportunity arose and I was able to play some really good footy this year I’d absolutely love to put my hand up but I’m certainly not sitting here thinking it’s the be all and end all.”
Menzel still gets enjoyment from the messages he receives weekly from the people he’s helped coming back from long-term injuries.
“To be able to have that impact on people is something I’m proud of. When I was coming back from those injuries I didn’t do it for that reason and it was never at the forefront of my mind, but for it to be a by product of that makes me feel pretty lucky and fortunate,” he said.
“I don’t shy away from it because I know how difficult it was to go through it and I know how much a difference people around you can help you. It’s one that I actually relish being able to help people going through something similar.”
You can find Daniel’s podcast on Spotify or on the KOTN Media website.