Bluetooth headphones perched over his ears, warm-up shirt sitting loosely over his match day shorts. Josh Kennedy wanders onto Optus Stadium about 90 minutes before the action.

Barefooted he strides onto the surface, feeling the turf under his feet. Blades of manicured grass between his toes. He’s connecting to Mother Earth.

It has been part of his pre-game ritual for many years. Tomorrow he will do that for the last time.

Kennedy has had a glittering 17-year AFL career. He’s achieved virtually everything that’s possible in the game. Premiership player, all-Australian, Coleman medallist.

He has been durable and tough. Dependable and honest. A game-breaker who has risen to the big moments. One of the all-time greats. The statistics speak for themselves; 270 games, 704 goals. Seven times he has been the club’s leading goal-kicker.

It’s an impressive resume. His 271st appearance in blue and gold tomorrow will elevate him to fourth on the club’s all-time games list – behind long-time teammate Shannon Hurn (317), champion ruckman Dean Cox (290) and four-times Club Champion Glen Jakovich (276).

But of all the accolades that have been bestowed upon him, one speaks more to Josh Kennedy the person than any other. Chris Mainwaring medallist 2015. The best clubman.

When Kennedy was summing up his career after announcing the curtain would fall after tomorrow’s game against Adelaide, he said he hoped above all else that he had been a good teammate. That blokes enjoyed playing alongside him.

Presumably that was rhetorical. He would know the answer to that. He absolutely has universal respect from his peers.

Not solely as a player, but as a person of fibre and integrity.

17:11 Mins
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Kennedy's retirement press conference

Superstar premiership Eagle Josh Kennedy will line up against the Crows this Sunday for his final AFL game

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For a man who was hard to miss on the footy field; a 196cm colossus of the forward line, so often at the centre of great moments for the club in the last 15 years, he hasn’t enjoyed the off-field spotlight that goes with it.

He preferred to deflect attention to others.

More comfortable in jeans and thongs than a lounge suit, he would meet the obligations required as a senior player, but his natural habitat is the backyard collecting eggs from his chook pen.

Entertaining his daughters, dressing up as a princess from the movie ‘Frozen’ when players and staff bought their wives and kids into the club for a bit of fun. That’s more in his wheelhouse.

While media appearances are not his favourite thing, he has had regular spots including one on 6PR breakfast every Tuesday morning.

Other than that, he’s reluctant. Except if he can help a cause.

He has been a devoted ambassador for MSWA, a cause dear to his heart and that of his family.

When Northampton and surrounding areas were hit so savagely by Cyclone Seroja last year, Kennedy was front and centre.

Inaugural Eagle Andrew Lockyer – an early product of this town that has football ingrained in its DNA – organised fundraisers and JK gave as much of his time as he could.

That’s his country and loves it. He would do anything to protect or preserve it. His roots are precious to him.

More comfortable in jeans and thongs than a lounge suit, he would meet the obligations required as a senior player, but his natural habitat is the backyard collecting eggs from his chook pen

For a while now he has wrestled with the moment when he would retire from footy and he has been planning for it. 

He revealed part of the big picture during his retirement media conference on Tuesday. He is in the throes of setting up the JK Foundation to help disadvantaged kids in the mid-west. He is acutely aware that resources are thin in and around his home town and he wants to make a difference.

The big fella will commit to that cause with the same fervour that saw him succeed so spectacularly in elite sport.

Kennedy is a man of honour and if that did not open the window to his soul for the adoring public, then his commitment to play at least one game with close mates – Mark LeCras and Harry Taylor (another Northampton product who was a star at Geelong) – certainly did.

Banged up knees and all, he will make good that promise. He will play for the Rams with Taylor and possibly with LeCras at Cervantes – if he can’t get his 2018 premiership teammate up to his part of the world.       

You can take the boy out of Northampton, but you can’t take the Northampton out of the boy.

And why would you?