IT’S official, pretty much everybody loves Lenny.
The retiring St Kilda veteran is the most universally admired footballer across the competition; revered for his on-field talents and an unassuming persona that transcends the realms of the footy world.
The hard-nosed midfielder has been voted the “best all-round bloke in the AFL” according to the Herald Sun’s annual 2014 footy fans survey.
It is a title that undoubtedly would not sit well with the 34-year-old, who is as humble as they come and is never one to take his fortunes for granted.
“I think as an AFL footballer you can be very selfish in a lot of ways in your pursuit of what you’re doing and your goals and I guess having a family every decision that I make is based around them now,” Hayes told Channel 7 in a recent interview.
The self-dubbed “simple family man” says he owes a lot to his mother, who inspired him to work hard at everything he sets about doing.
“I’ve always leant on my mum for advice, she used to say if a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well and I’ve always thought if I’m going to do something I’m going to do it to the best of my ability and give it everything I’ve got and see where it goes from there.”
Reflecting on his career, the three time best and fairest winner, and three-time All-Australian insists he’ll miss the camaraderie of AFL football when he hangs up his boots at the end of the season.
“Some of those mateships and friendships you get along the way, they’re things that have kept me going for as long I have in terms of my career and that’s what I’m going to miss the most when I do finish,” he said.
“It’s that banter, it’s the training, it’s the sitting around in the locker room an hour after a win. You’re sitting around just looking at each other exhausted but with a smile on your face at the same time. They’re the things that I’ll miss.”