Back in the day, 1975, when West Ham won the FA cup, the players smuggled the trophy back to a crowded East End pub and drank beer out of it with the fans.
In the premier league, we have Brazilians, Italians and Ukrainians who couldn't have picked out London on a map, playing in a soulless stadium with the fans kept safely from the touchline. The players live in gated communities and give a couple of seasons service at $100,000 a week's wages, before disappearig off to China for bigger wages in a tinpot league.
AFL isn't perfect but the majority of players form a connection with their club. Often a deep connection.