Steve Johnson’s premiership coaches agree; there will never be an AFL player like him.
Both Chris Scott and Mark Thompson hailed the retiring AFL champion as a master of invention and one of the league’s wiliest players.
Johnson helped Geelong win the 2007, 2009 and 2011 flags in a decorated 253-game stint with the Cats.
The fan-favourite wasn’t offered a new deal by Scott at the end of 2015 and joined Greater Western Sydney for a two-season swansong.
But Scott, speaking after Johnson announced his retirement on Thursday, was adamant it didn’t change the amount of love from both him or the club.
“He’s one of our favourites,” Scott said.
“Over the history of the game, when you talk about players with wily tricks he’s certainly in the conversation around the best.
“Watching him recently, he’s not as good physically as he was in his prime but he might be a bit smarter than he was in his prime.
“It’s amazing when you are a little bit limited how much you need to rely on those wily little tricks.”
Thompson coached Johnson at Geelong from the forward’s 2002 debut until 2010.
“I love Stevie,” Thompson told Fox Sports’ AFL 360.
“I love people who could do things that other people couldn’t do and they did it on a regular occurrence.
“Stevie was certainly one of them.
“He could mess up as good as any of them, but he could play the best footy on the ground.”
Scott said he grew to understand the depth of love from the Cats faithful for the goalsneak.
“For all the people that loved him on-field, there’s probably just as much off-field love from those who like a little bit of a cunning streak in the personality,” he said.
Johnson sits third on the all-time Geelong goalkickers list (452), and 13th for games played.