Adam Ramanauskas is long-serving Essendon list manager Adrian Dodoro’s favourite recruit of all time.
Having worked for the Bombers in recruitment since 1998, Dodoro could not go past Ramanauskas as his dearest recruit via either the draft or trade period.
“It’s like saying which is your favourite child. There’s so many of them over the years obviously when you have been doing this job as long as I have,” Dodoro told Dodcast.
“I don’t want to give him a big head, because he has got a big head, but the one that stands out is Adam Ramanauskas for me.
“We have a very special relationship even to this day. He’s just a wonderful person. Joe and Lucy, his parents, are fantastic people.
“The day he walked through the door you could tell he had something about him. His first season at the club he won our best and fairest in 1999 in the reserves. The following year he was runner up in the Rising Star in a premiership team.”
Ramanauskas was taken with Pick 12 in the 1998 draft. He played in the Bomber’s 2000 premiership, placed second in that year’s Rising Star Award, and finished third in the following year’s Crichton Medal.
Dodoro believes Ramanauskas was heading towards becoming an elite midfielder before his cancer diagnosis in 2003. He was diagnosed with low-grade cancer in his neck and shoulders, but returned to play all 24 matches in 2004. He ruptured his ACL during a training drill in 2005 before a cancer recurrence in 2006.
Essendon delisted and redrafted Ramanauskas onto their rookie list in 2007. He retired in 2008 with 134 games to his name.
“I’ve got no doubt that the year ‘Rama’ got diagnosed he was heading towards being one of the elite players in the competition. He was absolutely on fire,” Dodoro said.
“He was transitioning from a half-back flanker/back pocket player into an elite midfielder. He was untouchable in those first three or four rounds of that particular year and then came the shocking news.
“Just the way that young man handled that adversity in his life and showed the courage that he did. It was hugely emotional time at our football club for everybody.
“He goes down as one [of the best recruits].”