THOSE closest to Luamon Lual were there to celebrate the biggest moment of his football career.
Essendon snapped up the talented South Warrnambool defender with pick 39 in November 21's AFL national draft.
Lual, 18, was the first GWV Rebels' player taken. His close mate George Stevens, also from the Roosters, was a bargain buy for Geelong at pick 58.
Lual - the second oldest of four siblings - said the support of the Warrnambool community including the South Sudanese contingent meant the world.
The talented teenager watched the draft at the Akoch family home. The two families have been lifelong friends.
"It is crazy. My phone is going berserk," he told The Standard.
"It is such an amazing feeling. I heard Otha (Akoch) and Dad going berserk and Charity (Akoch) and all of them were going bananas.
"It just didn't feel real, it felt like a dream to be honest. I am super stoked and excited to join Essendon."
A photo and candle tribute to his late mum Regina ensured she was a part of the special moment.
"It was so special for my mum (to be included) - if you see that photo over there, she's smiling and it (me getting drafted) is something she would be very proud of," he said.
"I am grateful to have Charity here by my side who is a mother-figure for me as well.
"I am super blessed to have her and it means the world to her, just as much as it would for Mum.
"It is crazy how fast time goes and to be in this position, I am super grateful and it's super humbling as well."
Lual will team up with Hampden league export Zach Merrett - Essendon's captain - at the Bombers.
"It will be pretty cool to have someone like him there," he said.
"Country boys, we all have something in common in a sense. He'll be a great role model for me for sure.
"I think the young talent they've got there is really good and there will be so many good people to learn off," he said.
"I am really excited to get stuck into things, meet the boys. I can't wait to see what the future holds."
Lual and Stevens were two of four GWV Rebels drafted with Horsham Saints' Joel Freijah landing at the Western Bulldogs with pick 45 and East Point's Lachlan Charleson joining Port Adelaide at pick 52.
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