Triumphant Sydney Thunder captain Mike Hussey admitted that even though he always planned to take his team to a Big Bash League title when he joined the franchise once described as a "basket case", he cannot believe the dream came true on Sunday night.
Hussey is one of cricket's most respected figures and during his last press conference as a player in Australia he told of the emotional pain he felt as a proud West Australian to leave the Perth Scorchers to help turn around a Sydney outfit all too familiar with failure.
Sydney Thunder claim Big Bash title
Sydney Thunder defeated Melbourne Stars by three wickets to claim the fifth series of the Big Bash League.
However, he said defeating the Melbourne Stars in front a 46,000-strong MCG crowd for the BBL05 title made everything he endured well worth his while.
"This is what you plan for," he said of the victory. "This is what you hope to achieve, but when you actually do it ... it takes a bit of time to sink in.
"It's been a long journey. It's taken a long time and there's been a few heartaches along the way. But to actually reach the summit with this group of guys has been a reward for a lot of hard work.
"I agonised over the decision for a long time but in the end it's been the best decision I've ever made.
"Sometimes the most challenging - and hardest decisions - work out to be the best. I've learned so much about myself as person; learned so much about what it takes to build a winning team. It's just been a great education."
Hussey's farewell to arms - played on his mother's birthday - provided unexpected surprises.
He was greeted onto the MCG by the Stars, who were captained by his brother, David, with a guard of honour. When he was dismissed he was afforded a standing ovation by the crowd.
"It was really nice, it wasn't something I was expecting - a guard of honour," he said. "It was a nice touch.
"As I was coming off I was annoyed with myself for playing such a silly shot at that stage of the game but I did think to myself 'I've just got to take a few moments to soak this in' because it is such an amazing stadium to play at."
He praised his brother, a part-time bowler, who greeted Hussey to the crease by sending an over down at him, reviving memories of their fiercely-fought childhood backyard Test matches.
"I wasn't thinking about trying to smack him or not get out to him," Hussey said. "It was more a case of trying to take the game as deep as possible."
While Hussey might play in the Indian Premier League he has a consultancy role with the Thunder for BBL06. The 40-year-old took time out from the celebrations to spell out the impact he hopes he has had on the squad's younger players.
"I think a good work ethic; to be able to stay calm under pressure and it's important to have good players but it's equally as important to have good characters in a successful team.
"That's certainly what we've tried to bestow on our players - to win humbly; be modest; be respectful of the game and be respectful of each other."