GILT-EDGED Adelaide recruit Bryce Gibbs laid bare his soul in an emotional farewell to his old club Carlton after a frenetic climax to the NAB AFL Trade Period.
The 29-year-old revealed his inner torture after a failed bid last year to return to his home state, then his hesitancy to ask for a trade again this fortnight.
Gibbs, who choked back tears, had to wait until the last day of the exchange period to find out his fate after a minor hiccup on Wednesday afternoon over the picks involved in the deal.
But ultimately the Blues' 2014 best and fairest found his way to West Lakes in a four-year deal built around the Crows giving up two first-round draft picks.
"It's been a big 24 hours, a lot of mixed emotions – put it that way," Gibbs told reporters.
"You can prepare as much as you want for the moment to happen, but the closer it gets and the more of a reality it turns into, it certainly got a lot harder for me.
"Once it was a done deal, it sort of hit home a little bit and I usually don't get too emotional, but it pulled on a couple of heart strings and it was all a reality."
Gibbs made a series of difficult phone calls to the likes of fellow No.1 draft pick Marc Murphy and Kade Simpson after the trade went through, and later described the Ikon Park crew as his "family for the last 11 years".
"As disappointed as they were, they were the first to pass on congratulations and support and wish me all the best for my future," the 231-gamer said.
"We're not going to stop being mates, that's for sure. I was in Murph's wedding party last year, and I am recently engaged and he'll be in my wedding party.
"It's a friendship I've built over the last 11 years with a lot of guys (and) a friendship I'll cherish forever – and not only players, but staff, support staff, even members and fans."
Gibbs did not immediately set his sights on requesting a trade again in 2017 after last year's failed attempt to cross to Adelaide, preferring to focus on working hard and having a strong on-field campaign.
He was pleasantly surprised at the "seamless" way he was welcomed back into the fold after the Trade Period drama.
Gibbs placed fourth behind Murphy in Carlton's best and fairest this year, but the pull of home proved too much.
"I did at times (think) it's probably more unlikely to happen than happen," he said.
"After how it all played out last year, I was pretty wary to put myself up there and the club up there again and for a deal not to be worked out again.
"So, before I made that decision to ask to be traded back home, I wanted to make sure it was 90, 95 per cent sure all parties could get a fair and reasonable trade out of it.
"It got to a point it was pretty late in the piece again, which was probably not ideal … but that's how it unfolded again and I'm just grateful Carlton were able to listen to my request."
Gibbs joins a midfield that already boasts Rory Sloane and the Crouch brothers, Matt and Brad, and goes from a rebuilding club to one hell-bent on winning the 2018 premiership.
"I've got some new football challenges ahead of me, but you're certainly not guaranteed anything in this competition anymore," he said.
"You've seen how even the comp is at the moment and what Richmond and the Bulldogs have been able to do the last couple of years – it makes for a great competition.
"I think I've still got a lot to offer in my career and … it's a bit like getting drafted again.
"You want to earn the respect of your teammates again and that's what I'll do, and I'm looking forward to the opportunity that Adelaide's given me over the next four years."
Gibbs averaged an equal-career-high 26.8 disposals (10.1 contested), 5.9 tackles, five clearances and 5.6 score involvements, as well as kicking 17 goals in 22 games.