For a person who was born and bred in Bulldogs heartland and slept with pictures of Terry Lamb and Steve Price on his wall, Tim Mannah was as far away from blue and gold territory as could be.
How times have changed.
Not only is he about to enter his sixth season for the Parramatta Eels but he now lives in Parramatta and thousands of kids have his picture on their walls.
His blue and gold transformation was complete when he was named Parramatta's Citizen of the Year as part of this year's Australia Day celebrations.
"It's a big honour but it's also pretty humbling, when it comes to community awards or something like this, there are a lot of people who go into making it possible," Mannah said.
"We've got a great team and staff here working in community who are always excited to help out, and always making opportunities available for us.
"Parramatta is where I'm from, where I live, and this community means a lot to me, and I'm proud to call it home, and I'm really honoured to represent them."
The 25-year-old has taken the concept of leadership to a new level.
On the field he has been stoic in holding his team together despite back-to-back wooden spoons. He has also managed to take his own game to a new level as continues to strive to win back his NSW jersey.
Off the field he has redefined what it means to be a NRL player.
"I am very passionate about a number of causes and wanted to create a vehicle where I could have the greatest impact," said Mannah.