What you see is what you get from Matthew Kreuzer.
Honest and hardworking are traits the Carlton ruckman displays on the field and similarly away from it.
Those characteristics, along with some rare talents, were evident as a junior, where Northern Knights teammate Patrick Veszpremi observed a soon-to-drafted Kreuzer do things most big men shouldn’t be able to do.
“There was a game against the Geelong Falcons during our draft year where Kreuzer hit the ball out of a ruck contest, chased it down, gathered it below his knees and took a bounce despite being chased by Jaxson Barham, who was known for his elite pace,” Veszpremi told Aflplayers.com.au.
“Barham just couldn’t catch him. He kicked the ball inside 50 and we eventually got a goal out of it, all through his running ability.
“The way he grabbed the footy and just took off, you knew he was going to be something special.”
The then-teenaged Kreuzer had AFL recruiters’ mouths watering because of his mobility and skills for a big man.
Veszpremi witnessed Kreuzer’s talents from a young age, with the pair playing in the same team from under-14s through to the National Championships.
He remembers a motivated, wannabe AFL ruckman who was professional beyond his years, trained harder than most and always watched his diet.
And it didn’t take much to realise he had the makings of a future AFL player.
“You can usually tell which 15 or 16-year-olds are going to make it and we always knew he was going to be an AFL player one day,” Veszpremi added.
“He just had too many positive attributes to not be picked. These days, half the ruckman come from different sporting backgrounds and have amazing athletic capabilities and their kicking isn’t too flash, but Kreuzer kicks the ball like a genuine footballer.
“While he was a ruckman, he was also a rover at the same time which is rare. As a junior, you could see his potential with his running ability and he was as good as anyone below his knees.
“I remember them saying in the Northern Knights under-16s that Matthew would be a high draft pick one day.”
When the 2007 AFL season was done and dusted and draft day approached, Kreuzer was already the talk of the footy world.
By that stage, Kreuzer had amassed the 2007 Morrish Medal as the TAC Cup’s best and fairest, under-18 All-Australian selection and back-to-back TAC Cup Team of the Year honours.
There was never any doubt that Carlton were going to select the Bundoora teenager with the first pick in the 2007 draft but the pressure of being a high draft pick never bothered him, according to Veszpremi.
But the footy world hasn’t been privy to what Kreuzer is actually like away from the field.
As he approaches game No.150, the 28-year-old is similar to what he’s already shown throughout his 10 years in the AFL system.
“He’s a very quiet guy and is a bit more of an observer and listener as opposed to a talker during conversations. He’s an intelligent guy, he’ll sit back and take it all in and form an opinion later,” Veszpremi said.
“Everyone got along with him and never had a bad thing to say about him. He was a genuine and such a kind person. To be honest, he was so quiet and didn’t say too much when we were playing juniors.
“He’s just a really friendly guy. He’s as genuine a person as he is a footballer — he’s done a remarkable job to get to where he is.”