TADHG KENNELLY HAS revealed that had it not been for Jim Stynes, we would never have succeeded in Australian Rules football.
AFL legend Stynes lost his two-and-a-half year battle with cancer on Monday and countless tributes have been paid to the former Melbourne star over the past couple of days.
Kennelly, an All-Ireland-winning footballer with his native Kerry, made the switch to Oz in 1999 when he signed a rookie contract with the Sydney Swans but said he is greatly indebted to Stynes.
I wouldn’t be here now, it’s that plain and simple,” Kennelly said on AdelaideNow.au.
“I would not have played one game of AFL football if it wasn’t for Jim Stynes and nor would Nic Naitanui.
“When I first came out I didn’t know a whole lot about him,” he added. “I knew who Jim Stynes was in the AFL but I was given his book when I got here and as soon as I read that, from then on I was gob-smacked by him.”
30-year-old Kennelly, who is now an international ambassador for the sport, went on to become Ireland’s second most successful import to the AFL, winning the 2005 Premiership during his 197-game career with the Swans and says he would regularly call Stynes for guidance.
“From then on I was just in awe of him, I would be constantly picking up the phone to him. I would ring him up and ask him for advice on a contract negotiation, stuff like that.”