MATTHEW Pavlich has no regrets.
And nor should he given the incredible 17-year career he has had. But on the verge of reaching 350 games, he has had a chance to reflect.
If he had the chance to go back in time and speak to the young man who joined Fremantle as the fourth pick in the 1999 NAB AFL draft this is what he would have said.
"Don't waste a minute," Pavlich told AFL.com.au.
"Embrace how you feel because there'll be times when you want to absolutely give it to yourself on the training track, both in season and off season, and there'll be other times you need to sit back.
"But understand whatever you're feeling, whatever your body is telling you, it's the right thing.
"Understand there's going to be significant challenges. It's not going to be a smooth ride. There's going to be more kicks up the backside than licks of the ice cream, as the saying goes.
"But if you apply yourself day in day out for long enough you'll get the results. Do the hard work first and the results will follow.
"And to enjoy it. Sometimes I've had to remind myself, probably over the last three or four years, that I actually am doing what I love and what I've always wanted to do, and it's a privilege.
"To do it for one season, let alone 17, is something that I should have never taken for granted, and I don't think I have. But I have had to remind myself of that. Enjoy the moment. Enjoy being able to do something that you love because not many people do."
That's the advice from a man set become one of only 15 men to have played 350 matches in VFL/AFL history and the only man to have achieved it from a Western Australian club.
He is one of only three to have also kicked 600 goals. He is in the top-22 goalkickers in the League's history. He is the sixth-longest serving captain in the league's history. He is a six-time All Australian and six-time best and fairest winner.
Pavlich's resume is staggering. But his longevity is what he's most satisfied with.
"I think probably what I'm most proud of is being able to front up each week on the training track and game day no matter how my body or mind were feeling," Pavlich said.
"You don't play this long without having injuries and having to fight through that. You don't play this long without having mental lapses in your training and your application but still being able to get yourself up each week.
"So I'm just really proud of being able to dig in when things were tough, control my emotions when things were going well, have a pretty pragmatic and considered approach towards my life and football over the past 17 years."
Matthew Pavlich will go down as one of Fremantle's greatest ever players. Picture: AFL Media
Teammate Lee Spurr said Pavlich's achievements were a result of his incredible professionalism.
"It's a testament to how he prepares and all the little things you do because you don't get to play 350 games without ticking every box consistently along the way," Spurr said.
"Off-field he's immaculate. He's the first one in getting prepared, he's the last one there staying and doing the extras. It's a great lesson for all our young kids. Really if you want to be a successful footballer, emulate his behaviours and it will give you the best chance to do it."
Coach Ross Lyon used him as an example, but not always in a positive way.
"He was a critical piece for me when I walked through the door cold," Lyon said
"As a leader he was certainly an extension of me, helped set standards, drive the group. There were some challenges early. We weren't performing at a high level early and we worked our way through that. He carries a lot of pressure and carries it well.
"I've been privileged to work with him and coach him. His ability to take feedback and act on it — it hasn't always been comfortable for Matthew. I tend to start at the top and whack the best ones and everyone else falls into line. He understood that, he responded to that and really I'm grateful for his contribution in my coaching period at the Dockers."
Ross Lyon is full of praise for the Fremantle champ. Picture: AFL Media
Pavlich was already an AFL great when Lyon walked through the door but he said being challenged by the new coach was the best thing for him.
"In a lot of ways it was refreshing, it was what I needed, it was the right thing," Pavlich said.
"I think for Ross it was to come in and challenge the higher profile, elite players so that it was the standard for him and a standard for everyone. The approach was spot on.
"There were times that we could all probably have a bit of a laugh about it and sort of think that maybe it could have been done slightly differently.
"But I admire what he did, it was the right thing."
Pavlich would not change a thing.
Matthew Pavlich celebrates one of his 693 goals. Picture: AFL Media