Kieren Jack remembers as a 13-year-old watching in July 2000 as Paul Kelly played his 200th AFL game for the Sydney Swans.
On that very day Jack decided he wanted to do what his AFL idol had done.
Four years ago, on 8 July 2016, Jack did exactly that when he played his 200th game for the Swans against Geelong at Geelong.
It was a moment the ever-popular former co-captain rates among his career highlights.
So special was it that he was overcome with emotion before running out for what was a crunch Round 16 game in the race to the 2016 AFL finals.
At the time Hawthorn sat on top of the ladder, with Sydney and Geelong among six teams locked together one game back.
Sydney were coming off a heart-breaking loss to the Western Bulldogs at the SCG in which Jason Johannisen had goaled for the Dogs in the closing seconds to snatch victory.
Geelong were fresh off a bye, and it was always going to be crucial in the battle for the all-important top two spots on the ladder.
It was only fitting that such a warrior as Jack would play such a big milestone game when the stakes were so high.
The pugnacious midfielder was primed for the occasion, but wasn’t prepared for what happened in the dressing rooms at Geelong shortly before he and co-captain Jarrad McVeigh led the team out.
“We were sitting there before we went out and I didn’t know anything about what was coming,” Jack recalls.
“They played a short video package which the club had putting together, showing a short sequence of some of my highlights.
“My brother (Brandon) wasn’t playing but he’d flown down with the group to support me and he was sitting next to me as the video played. I’ve got to say emotions got the better of me.
“Then, just before we went out, Jarrad (McVeigh) got up and presented me with my jumper and said some amazing words about me and what we play for.
“He spoke about what it meant for the group to play well on this occasion, how we were all like brothers, and how the players were going to go out and do it me. It was just an amazing feeling of unity … incredible.
“I’ve been fortunate to present jumpers to a few first-gamers and for Macca to present mine to me for my 200th and for my brother to be there too meant a lot.
“He (Macca) is very good with words, and although he didn’t talk for too long what he said was so empowering. I was in tears. I had to get myself together in a hurry.”
Jack was the 29th player to play 200 games for the South Melbourne/Sydney Swans and at the time was the eighth youngest, having celebrated his 29th birthday 12 days earlier.
But the celebrations didn’t end there. After wiping away the tears, he went out and put on a clinic as the Swans won 15-8 (8) to 9-6 (60).
He had 24 disposals, made a game-high 10 tackles, had five clearances and kicked a game-high three goals, including the first and last, to collect three Brownlow Medal votes.
His three-goal haul is the most by a Swans player in his 200th game, and among players for whom match-by-match votes are available or votes were awarded (no finals), he is one of only two to be judged best afield. The other was Dennis Carroll.
“I remember the game quite well. We started on fire .. our attack on the ball and our pressure was fantastic, and the energy was huge,” Jack recalled.
“Playing away, it was basically the 22 of us against the rest and they were booing us.
“I was really proud to put in a strong performance and sort of a trademark performance in one of the most memorable games of my career. It was good to have a mix of offence and defence .. it was really pleasing.”
Jack recalls how in the lead-up to his 200th game he’d thought a lot about Kelly’s double-century milestone 16 years earlier at a time when he hadn’t committed exclusively to AFL and was still splitting his time between junior AFL and junior rugby league.
“I loved Paul Kelly. He was the reason I played AFL. I was only young but I remember vividly saying to myself that day I’m going to play 200 games and kick 100 goals.
“I was just a kid dreaming, but I desperately wanted to be like him (Kelly).”
Jack has done that and more. He is one of just 16 Swans to have completed the 200 game / 100 goal double, finishing his career with 256 games and 166 goals.
Toss in 19 finals, three grand finals, one premiership, four years as co-captain, the 2010 Bob Skilton Medal, seven top 10 B&F finishes, All-Australian selection and representation in the International Rules series and it makes one very special career.