Without Mick Malthouse, Dane Swan’s AFL career would probably have ended at three games.
Nick Maxwell, who was captain of the 2010 Collingwood premiership team, has pointed out Malthouse showed faith in Swan at a time when plenty of others would not.
The retired Magpies backman said one of the great strengths of the record-breaking coach was his ability to bring out the best in his players.
On Friday night, Malthouse will coach his record 715th AFL game when he is in charge of Carlton against the Magpies.
Collingwood nearly sacked Swan in 2003 after he was involved in a city brawl.
“He (Swan) went into a meeting and his belief was it was all over – he was getting sacked in that meeting,” Maxwell told SEN.
“Everyone had their crack at him and it got to Mick.
“He said `I’m not going to turn my back on you, I’m going to give you an opportunity, I’m not just going to throw you out the door. But understand, this is your last chance … don’t let me down’.”
Maxwell said he cannot say who made the final call on whether Swan would stay at Collingwood.
But it was a pivotal moment.
Swan went on to win the 2011 Brownlow Medal and play 240 games for the Magpies.
Maxwell pointed to a string of players who benefitted from Malthouse’s guidance while he coached the `Pies from 2000-11.
James Clement, Shane Wakelin, Brodie Holland, Paul Licuria, Luke Ball and Leon Davis were among those whose careers either were rejuvenated or gained another dimension at Collingwood.
Malthouse left Collingwood under strained circumstances, with Nathan Buckley taking over as coach.
Buckley praised Malthouse on Wednesday and said he had sent his old coach a note of congratulations and thanks.
“He brought a lot discipline and a real clarity of purpose to the club,” Buckley said.
“His type of leadership was exactly what Collingwood needed at that time.
“There were no grey areas – it was really clear.
“That was real eye opener for me, as a 27, 28-year-old, given we’d struggled for the few years leading up to that.”
Buckley is yet to receive a reply, but noted Malthouse undoubtedly has a lot on his plate this week.