If Joey Atkinson ever needs a reference, he should look no further than Josh McKenzie.
Swans president McKenzie said Atkinson - back full-time at the club after a decade away - was "pure gold as a man".
"He's in the top 10 of my favourite people in the world ... Honest, reliable, hard-working, supportive, sensible, intelligent, handsome," McKenzie said.
Atkinson, he added, was "much the same" as a player, along with being "skilful and determined".
McKenzie said the experienced midfielder - who played AFL in Melbourne and Mildura after leaving Tamworth to attend uni in the Victorian capital - was more interested in "contributing to the common good" of the team "than individually starring".
Atkinson, 29, the Clontarf Foundation operations officer at Oxley High, was mentored by McKenzie and other then-senior Swans players when he debuted at the club at age 16.
He relocated to Melbourne at the end of 2010, with his Swans appearances then limited to games that coincided with his return home on holidays.
Atkinson studied exercise and sports science at uni. While in Melbourne he played for the Fitzroy Reds and was a youth worker dealing with youth homelessness, before getting a job with Clontarf in Mildura and joining the Robinvale Euston Eagles. (He played mainly reserve grade and third grade at the Reds, and mainly first grade at the Eagles).
He then moved to Newcastle to work for Clontarf and be with his partner, Erika Chapman-Burgess, a Glen Innes-raised doctor specialising in obstetrics and gynaecology.
Atkinson described being back in Tamworth and at the Swans as "quite nostalgic". "It's nice being back, having a home-cooked meal and sometimes getting my washing done."
Another benefit of being home is having the opportunity to pay back the Swans for helping him "become the footballer" and "the person" he is today. He's doing that by mentoring the Swans' young brigade.