He epitomised New Zealand football during its golden era in the 1980s, a blood, sweat and tears man who, despite regular scraps with officials and administrators, scored a stunning, long-range headed goal that broke the Aussies' 1982 World Cup campaign.
Now 52-year-old All Whites legend Grant Turner is demanding some of the same (well, sweat and tears, maybe not the blood and scraps bits) as he moves into a senior coaching role with Northern League battlers Tauranga City United.
It's a homecoming of sorts for the aggressive midfielder with a penchant for scoring goals - he spent four years with Mt Maunganui in the mid-1990s, including a stint as player-coach.
Turner has linked with good mate John Whitley, a Tauranga City United life member and former reserve team coach, to spearhead Tauranga's drive back up into the Northern League premier division.
It's a big ask - City are languishing two tiers below in the 12-team second division - but one the new coaching duo, who replace Peter Smith and Martin Redwood, are adamant needs to happen.
"An area this size deserves a premier league level team and we've got the ambition to take them there," Whitley, 56, said. They ran their first official training last night at Links Ave and need to work quick to whittle down a bunch of 40 first team hopefuls into a squad of 20.
"We'd love to have Tauranga back in premier league in two years, but it'll depend on how quickly the players develop and whether they share our ambition," Turner, who played 71 times for New Zealand and scored 14 goals, said.
"If it takes us three years to get back up then that's fantastic, four years too; but a club like this in a city this size deserves to step up."
Whitley and Turner met in 1980 when Kevin Fallon brought the All White north to Gisborne, although they'd actually locked horns as opponents a few years previous when a Turner tackle sent Whitley tumbling, busting his shoulder and putting him in hospital.
There was no lingering resentment - the pair have stayed great mates for 30 years and were going to coach in Te Puke this season following Turner's move to Tauranga before Christmas to begin work as area sales manager for Fletcher Easysteel.
Turner last coached at Wellington clubs Petone and Stopout after leaving Mt Maunganui, with Tauranga his first hands-on role in a decade.
Tauranga City United president Ron Boyle said they'd fielded several approaches to take over the club's senior side, with nothing proving suitable until Whitley and Turner surfaced a month ago.
Turner's reputation as a firebrand, on and off the pitch, including at least one altercation with Tauranga City officials, didn't bother the club, Boyle said.
"The past is the past as far as I'm concerned. Grant assures us he's dealt with a lot of the issues he might have had and the players are certainly excited about his involvement here."
During the course of our interview Turner disputes my description of of him as "petulant" and a "hothead" ... only because they're words he feels don't even begin to scratch the surface of his past behaviour.
"****** idiot would be more appropriate, but you probably can't print that.
"People have memories about lots of things ... . and it's been a difficult move back because the old cliche about things never being as good the second time around is true.
"At times when I was here I wasn't so nice but a lot of things change in 15 years - I've got smarter, more business savvy, and I'm handling people and personalities daily in my job, which is essentially what coaching a football team is.
"A lot of people over a period of time go through heartache and changes, and I've certainly been through those, losing family members, illness, things like that, and I've had to learn how to deal with a lot of things, getting better as I get older.
"Someone said the other day they can't believe how the anger I had is totally gone, and it's true.
"I was angry on the park and angry around the park and that's something I've had to confront and deal with.
"At the end of the day, though, if people can't take you for what you are now then there's not much I can do about it."