JETT Bermingham says playing his natural position and having the backing of North Warrnambool Eagles' coaching panel helped him become one of the Hampden league's youngest Maskell Medal winners.
The teenager's move from a wing into the Eagles' midfield paid off with eye-catching performances for the premiership fancy.
Bermingham, 19, only played nine of a possible 12 matches after starting the season with NAB League club Greater Western Victoria Rebels.
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A decision to commit full-time to the Eagles and learn from multiple premiership-winning coach Adam Dowie paid off.
Bermingham was running second in Saturday's count with 11 votes after nine rounds but scored a hat-trick of best-on-ground performances to finish the COVID-19 shortened season with a flurry.
His 20 votes was five clear of South Warrnambool's Liam Youl who finished runner-up.
Koroit's Tim McIntyre was third with 13 votes.
Bermingham said his achievement was "unexpected".
"I'd only played a handful of senior games (in 2019) and only got to play the nine this year which is not many," he said.
Playing in the midfield built Bermingham's confidence.
"Growing up in juniors I have always been a midfielder and in our senior side in 2019 we had a pretty good side and I was only young and was never going to play in the midfield so I went out onto a wing," he said.
"My preferred position is definitely the middle and 'Wiggsy' (Dowie) knew that and he put me in the middle this year.
"He's had heaps of impact. He's always talking to you about how to improve and he's really helpful."
The teenager, who is working two jobs while on a gap year, helped complement the Eagles' extractors in the midfield.
"'Snooze' (Matt) Wines gets it out to me and I do the flashier stuff which gets the attention," Bermingham said.
Bermingham would love to deliver a maiden senior premiership to North Warrnambool Eagles' faithful but also harbours ambitions of testing himself at a higher level after leaving the NAB League ranks.
He hopes to study commerce in Melbourne next year and travel back to play for the Eagles in 2022 but the VFL could beckon.
"The Rebels wasn't working out (for me). I was playing bad footy and not to my style, not my position and I knew coming back here Wiggsy would help me and put me in a position where I knew I could play good footy and it worked," Bermingham.
"I was happy with it but I want to keep going to see how far I can get.
"I want to go to uni and get out of Warrnambool because I am living at home still and I want to do my own thing."
The former Emmanuel College student became the third North Warrnambool player to win the Maskell Medal alongside two-time victor Liam Ryan and Jason Porter.
"That's unreal. They are club legends and I am just a little 19-year-old kid," he said.
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