HE'S known for his ball-winning ability and distaste for the spotlight.
But Cobden export Ben Cunnington opened up on the most "challenging" season of his AFL career just moments after clinching his second Syd Barker Medal as North Melbourne club champion.
Cunnington, a 209-game star, spoke of his family's influence after accepting the prestigious award.
"That's probably my biggest motivation in life, my little family," Cunnington said.
"Without you guys' support and everything you do for me, I literally couldn't be the man I am today."
An emotional Cunnington also thanked his grandparents - his "number one fans" - parents and siblings for their unwavering support.
He reserved special praise for his "best mate and rock", wife Belinda and his two children.
The 28-year-old, who played junior football with Timboon Demons before crossing to Cobden, said his family helped lift his game to new heights.
The birth of Cunnington's second child - Stella - was the first event in a whirlwind 12 months.
That's probably my biggest motivation in life, my little family.Ben Cunnington
One of his closest friends, Majak Daw, fell from Melbourne's Bolte Bridge and sustained serious injuries to his hips and pelvis.
"That shook us up a bit," he told AFL.com.au.
Then came Brad Scott's departure as senior coach.
"That one hit me pretty hard, because I got drafted when 'Scotty' came in, so we had a good relationship and understanding of each other," he said.
"He's literally made me the player and person I am today, so to see him go that quick before me - yeah, it was a shock.
"But life goes on and I couldn't be happier with Rhyce (Shaw) and the way he goes about it. He's a simple man, like myself, so we get each other."
Cunnington ranked third for clearances and fourth for contested possessions in 2019.
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