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Matt Finnis (St Kilda CEO)
I’ve always thought that better people make better players and Lenny embodies that notion as much as any AFL player I’ve had the privilege to work with.
Courageous, disciplined, dedicated, caring, professional, loyal and humble – Lenny Hayes has not just been a wonderful servant of the St Kilda Football Club, but a terrific role model for any young, aspiring footballer.
AFL football has never been about a popularity contest, but few players have earned the respect, admiration and genuine affection from both team mates and opponents as Lenny Hayes. The positive impact he has had on the young players coming through this club will be felt for many years to come.
As a Club we thank Lenny for sharing so much of himself with our players, coaches, officials and fans in his incredible playing journey spanning 16 seasons. We look forward to witnessing his last half dozen games as a player and supporting him in his transition to a successful post playing career.
Alan Richardson (St Kilda coach)
— Eric Bana (@EricBana67) July 16, 2014
He’s admired throughout the industry. My take on Lenny is that he is an incredible competitor and a fantastic person. To have the privilege to be able to work with him, all be it for a short time, has just been an honour. He’s an outstanding fella. The work he does with our young guys and the conversations he has on the training track has prepared our guys for life after Lenny. It’s been incredibly significant. He’s been enormous.
Gillon McLachlan (AFL CEO)
Lenny Hayes.......Great player and an even better bloke!! Well done on a wonderful career!
— Cameron Ling (@CameronLing) July 15, 2014
He, I think, is universally loved by supporters of all 18 clubs and there are very few players who [can say] that. So I think he transcends his playing ability in terms of the integrity that he radiates.
The way that he's gone about his football means that he's revered by all football supporters and he'll be a great loss.
Tony Brown (St Kilda player welfare manager)
Lenny Hayes congratulations on a stellar career. Top 5 Saints of all time and a class act. Well done.
— Barry Breen (@barry_breen) July 15, 2014
I admired Lenny the day he walked into the Club as a young man. He possessed all the qualities that has assisted him in earning the up most respect over 16 years in the industry that he deserves. It has been a pleasure seeing Lenny achieve so much during his time in the game.
Peter Summers (St Kilda President)
Congrats on an amazing career Lenny Hayes, you're a #legend buddy. You did everything with absolute class. A true gentlemen of the game !
— Shane Warne (@ShaneWarne) July 15, 2014
Lenny is one of the most respected and admired footballers across all clubs. But his place at the Saints is well and truly legendary.
Lenny's decision to retire is obviously one that we all dreaded hearing. But it's one we must respect - Lenny has done nothing but serve the Saints with absolute commitment and reached this decision after much consideration.
We all have our special memories of Lenny - my favourite being a special goal against the Demons after 3 or so baulks and a tackle against the Dogs a few years ago. But I will dwell on those in the future. For now I look forward to seeing Lenny play his remaining games in the red, white and black.
Beyond that there is always a place for Lenny at the Saints and we look forward to his relationship with our Club continuing well beyond the culmination of his illustrious playing career.
Nick Riewoldt (St Kilda captain)
Congrats on an amazing career @Len_hayes admired by all— Scott Pendlebury (@SP_10) July 15, 2014
He’s just the ultimate teammate and the ultimate player. As a friend off the field, he’s just the nicest and best bloke you could ever meet. He’s fiercely loyal too. Of all the people I’ve met in football, he’s the best person and the best player as well.
It doesn’t really matter who you support, everyone loves him. He’s so popular because of the style of game he plays – how competitive he is and how hard and tough he is. He’s really fair as well as modest and he’s just the ultimate team player. I think everyone who follows football can recognise that.
From a selfish point of view I’m sad to see him go because he is such a great teammate and shows such great leadership.
He’s really measured. He always treats people as he would want to be treated and I’m sure he will have a great coaching career if that is what he chooses to do. I’m sure he will have no shortage of offers.
Lenny is probably leading our best and fairest to be honest and it would have been great to see him go again. He’s earned the right to call time when he sees fit.
Justin Koschitzke (Former teammate)
— Brad Sewell (@bradsewell12) July 15, 2014
I did see it coming. He’s given his heart and soul for a long time and he’s made the decision and gone out on top. There isn’t a bad word you can say about the bloke. Lenny has a lot of pride. I’ve never seen anyone been so hard on themselves in training and push themselves to work so hard as Lenny has done.
The humility has shown right through his career is great and he hasn’t changed a whisker since the start. He’s probably worked on his leadership because he was ultra-quiet early days. One on one he’s as good as anyone. He’s a true football person.
In the 2010 drawn Grand Final Michael Gardiner went down with a hamstring before half time so I had to play the second half in the ruck. It gave me front row seats to see what he did that day. If there was a landmine on the ground, Lenny would have thrown his body on it. Time after time he kept throwing himself on the ball and on boots and bodies.
Grant Thomas (Former St Kilda coach)
Congratulations to @Len_hayes ... an absolute champion and more importantly a very good bloke!
— Joel Selwood (@joelselwood14) July 15, 2014
Lenny is a coach’s dream, a teammate’s spirit and a club’s soul. He leads by example, takes his turn, gives 100 per cent of himself. He is the ultimate team player and one of the most selfless players I have ever had the pleasure to be involved with.
He personifies everything that St Kilda needs and should represent. He is widely admired as much by his peers as those close to him and I have never heard a bad word said about him. He is how most parents would like their son to be. I can’t speak highly enough of my admiration for this great man.
What an honour to play alongside not only one of the greats of the game, but also my childhood hero. @Len_hayes congrats on a great career!
— Eli Templeton (@eli_templeton) July 15, 2014
Drew Petrie (North Melbourne veteran)
I played against the Saints on the weekend and we got to see how good Lenny still is. I was chatting to Levi Greenwood and he was saying how hard he is to tag... He wins the contested footy and it's hard to tag a bloke who does that.
— Jude Bolton (@Jude_Bolton) July 15, 2014
Robert Murphy (Western Bulldogs veteran)
I think he epitomises what a spiritual leader is at a footy club. I always felt when you played against St Kilda, any action of his had a more profound impact on his teammates on top of just being a great player.
Feel lucky to have played for as long as I have and to have met so many great people over the journey. Thanks for all the messages
— Lenny hayes (@Len_hayes) July 15, 2014
John Beveridge (St Kilda's recruiting manager when Hayes was drafted)
There was a perception that he was a bit slowish, but he had a step and could sell a beautiful dummy and he showed that. When you saw him play on a half forward flank, which he did at times for NSW/ACT, we'd say 'well there's a step, he can find his way through traffic.'
In his early time here, a member of the strength and conditioning staff told me he had a remarkable capacity to recover quickly from a hard training session. It's been well documented that Sydney had three picks in the top eight and most people expected them to take a couple of Sydney boys including Mark McVeigh, in that eight. They chose Nic Fosdike who was a very good player, Ryan Fitzgerald of Big Brother fame, and Jude Bolton. We knew Jude Bolton was a keen St Kilda supporter so the thinking was at that stage that if Sydney picked Lenny in the top eight, then we would take Jude at 11.
When he kicks the ball, even though he isn't a long kick, he almost puts the ball on his foot from his hand. He doesn't drop it from a high point.
Robert Harvey (Former teammate)
— luke dunstan (@lukedunstan2) July 15, 2014
He was a pretty driven young kid. He had a real appetite for hard work and he learnt that pretty early.
I don’t think he played overly great footy in the early days, but he really did learn that ability to train hard and see that rewarded in his game.
We obviously knew he was from a NSW background so we could see the tackling straight away ... and his toughness was always there, but he probably didn’t have that sense of awareness. He looks [now] like he’s had it forever but I think he really worked on it and even that pace on takeoff. He was never an overly quick player but he had that [initial] acceleration.
He really was that genuine leader by his actions. That was pretty clear pretty early, that he had that inspirational leadership on the field. He’d do acts that would just lift the team.
Even as an older player ... I used to look to him a lot for inspiration, even though he was a far younger player than me. He’s just an honest player in every sense of the word. He’s that way off the field. There’s no in-between there.
St Kilda fans will dearly miss Lenny Hayes running out each week and giving his all for that team. It’ll be a big hole.
— Shane Savage (@ShaneSavage05) July 15, 2014