Nathan Grima was reduced to tears while giving his retirement speech to teammates at AFL club North Melbourne last year.
It follows that playing against many of his close friends on Saturday, when Essendon face the Kangaroos at Etihad Stadium, was always going to feel a little weird.
Grima, signed as a top-up player following the doping bans handed out to 12 Bombers, is renowned for his sense of humour.
But the key defender doesn’t plan on saying much at Etihad.
“Even though I love my banter, there won’t be anything coming from me,” Grima said on Friday.
“I went out for dinner earlier in the week with a couple of lads and spoke to a few of guys on the phone.
“I just want to sneak under the radar, get it done and hopefully play well.”
North icon Brent Harvey wanted to ensure neither of those wishes were granted, cheekily vowing to run rings around Grima.
“He’s a funny guy and he’s quick witted, so I won’t get in a verbal battle with him,” Harvey said.
“I’ll just try and run him around, make him chase me a little bit.”
Grima spoke of his excitement about the Bombers’ future but it was clear how much North still means to him.
For example, the Tasmanian attended Drew Petrie’s recent 300th match at Etihad in a box full of former North players.
“I’ve got two teams to barrack for after this year,” Grima said.
“While I’ll always be a good North man, tomorrow is strictly business.
“I’ve never been a fan of people going on social media and being jovial about playing their old team.
“You don’t want to make light of it.”
Harvey noted it was fantastic that Grima, who played 86 games for North in an injury-plagued career, had a chance to keep playing the sport he loves.
“Narni’s a big part of our football club or was a big part of our football club,” Harvey said.
“He’s still great friends with a lot of people.
“It’s just great to see him out there playing football. I know how many injuries he went through and how hard it was for him.”
The Kangaroos are shooting for an eighth straight win and Harvey declared there would be no let-up against wooden spoon favourites Essendon.
“They beat Melbourne, Melbourne got within one or two points of us,” he said.
“If you take them lightly they can do some damage.”