From: Merbein/Bendigo U18, selection #3, 2003 National Draft
Number: 12 (2004-2013)
Games: 157 (163 total)
Goals: 129 (130 total)
Having already played in a senior premiership for Merbein at 18-years-old, Sylvia entered the 2003 National Draft as one of the brightest prospects in the game. Despite a two year battle with osteitis pubis he won the Bendigo Pioneers best and fairest and was selected in the junior All-Australian team. Sylvia recorded the best standing vertical jump at that year's draft camp, and was in the top ten percent for running vertical jumps.
After a month delay to his first pre-season while still battling injury, Sylvia made his debut in Round 9, 2004, but was out of the side again until Round 21. That day he achieved the rare feat of goalling with his first kick in league football, in his second game. He played 16 games in his second year, and 17 (including two finals) in 2006, and showed flashes of brilliance without living up to the lofty expectations from his draft year. His commitment was questioned, and in the 2006 pre-season a public altercation with his then girlfriend saw Sylvia in court, and fined $2000 by the club.
As Melbourne collapsed in 2007 and 2008, Sylvia spent more time playing as a forward, with only patchy glimpses of his midfield talents. He played 34 games across the two seasons but was far from his side's best in either year. It was later revealed that in 2007 his teammates labelled Sylvia as the player they 'trusted the least'. In the 2009 pre-season he was fined $5000 for turning up to training in an 'unfit' state, but that season ended up being his best yet. Across 17 games he achieved career highs for disposals, goals and tackles, earning his first Brownlow Medal votes along the way. At the end of the year he signed a new two year deal with the club.
A broken jaw in a 2010 pre-season match cost him the first few weeks of the new season, but Sylvia returned to kick a career high five goals in the Round 5 victory over Richmond. Despite only playing 15 games for the season, including missing three weeks due to a blood clot in his toe, he was one of the best players in an improving side. The next year he was equally brilliant and frustrating, kicking four goals in a game twice, before saving the best for last, with 29 touches and five goals against Richmond in Round 22. The same game saw him given a two match suspension for striking that prematurely ended his year. Despite rumours of a move to Sydney, Sylvia signed a two year contract extension late in the season. He was named in the Australian International Rules squad at the end of the year but dropped after being the passenger in a car that had an early morning traffic accident. He was fined $5000 and suspended from the opening round of 2012 for breaking team rules.
Sylvia had to wait even longer to start the season after suffering fractures in his back from a heavy collision during a practice match. After returning to the side as Substitute in Round 5 he played a steady but unspectacular season before returning to form late in the year. In a poor team, his 2013 he was less spectacular than previous years but he still finished fifth in the Best and Fairest. At the end of that year he exercised his right as an unrestricted free agent to leave the club, joining Fremantle. His time with the Dockers was not a success, waiting until the second half of 2014 to debut and only playing six games before being delisted.
After leaving Fremantle, Sylvia played a one-off game for Templestowe in the Eastern Football League before returning to Merbein. He left them midway through 2016 to play for Murrumbeena, and was an assistant coach at Meringur in 2018.
Sylvia passed away in a road accident shortly before his 33rd birthday.
|Round 6, 2007||Front-On Contact||Reprimand|
|Round 14, 2007||Wrestling||Withdrawn|
|Round 15, 2008||Striking||Reprimand|
|Round 14, 2009||Striking||3 matches|
|Round 10, 2011||Umpire Contact||$900 fine|
|Round 22, 2011||Striking||2 matches|
|Round 1, 2013||Striking||Reprimand|
|Round 7, 2013||High Contact||3 matches|