One dominated junior football, came through the elite pathway program and defied doctor's advice to carve out one of the most successful careers in the history of the AFL.
The other was a supremely talented rough diamond as a youngster, who caught everyone's attention as a 17-year-old by outclassing men in the Bendigo Football League before going on to become the most recognisable star in the AFL.
Joel Selwood and Dustin Martin come from different sides of the tracks, took vastly different pathways to the AFL and they're vastly different personalities.
However, their talent, will to win and standing in the AFL is remarkably similar.
Selwood has three premierships, six All-Australian honours (including three times being named captain), three club best and fairest awards and the AFL Rising Star award headlining a career of 309 games.
In 243 games, Martin's career highlights include two premierships, one Brownlow Medal, the Norm Smith Medal twice, four All-Australian honours and two club best and fairest awards.
On Saturday night at the Gabba, one of Selwood and Martin will add another premiership medal to their name and, possibly, a Norm Smith Medal.
The dynamic duo sit comfortably alongside Greg Williams and Geoff Southby on the Mount Rushmore of Bendigo football.
AFL Talent Ambassador Kevin Sheehan has followed the careers of Selwood and Martin since they were teens in Bendigo and Castlemaine respectively.
A game in the Northern Ireland town of Crossmaglen was when Sheehan knew Selwood had something special about him.
Selwood was selected to captain the Australian under-17 team in game one of a three-match series against Ireland.
"We were on our bus from Belfast, got lost, got to the game late, quickly had to warm up and we got a hiding from the Irish,'' Sheehan recalled.
"Normally, we rotate the captains for each game, but the way Joel conducted himself after that loss we knew we had to keep him as captain.
"Joel played well himself in game one, but it was the way he marshalled the troops for such a young player was so impressive.
"It wasn't an ordinary group. Marc Murphy was in the team, Travis Boak and Paddy Ryder were there, too.
"We turned it around in four days and we won the second match. We made the comment at that time that we thought we were watching the next Michael Voss in the way that Joel prepared himself, how he played, how he led and how he adapted to the round ball game.
"He stood out like a beacon."
Those same leadership skills saw Selwood become Geelong captain in 2012 and Saturday night's grand final will be his 200th game as skipper of the Cats.
Sheehan, who himself played 102 games for Geelong between 1974 and 1982, knows how lucky the Cats are to have Selwood.
Selwood suffered a knee injury in his top-age year with the Bendigo Pioneers and medical advice at the time put some clubs off selecting the midfielder.
The diagnosis from Selwood's surgeon didn't paint a good picture in terms of his knee standing up to the rigours of AFL.
In the 2006 AFL National Draft, Selwood slipped to the Cats with pick seven.
"He should have been in the conversation for number one with Bryce Gibbs,'' Sheehan said.
"At some clubs the medical opinion dominates the interpretation of the recruiters. Clubs ruled him out because of his knee because they thought they'd only get a few years out of him.
"14 years on Joel is one of the best players in the modern era.
"His leadership and his clean hands and vision are elite. He sets up play so well with his one touch and winning the contested ball. He lays out handpasses in Greg Williams-type fashion.
"He's been so consistent and he's held in the highest respect.
"If you look up courageous in the dictionary there's a picture of Joel. He's a great champion."
The Sydney Swans made a bold bid to sign Martin before he was drafted by the Tigers.
As a 16-year-old, Martin spent a year in Sydney with his father, Shane, and he played footy in Campbelltown.
The following year he returned to his home club of Castlemaine where he played senior footy for the Pies and turned heads with some brilliant individual performances, including a five-goal haul at full-forward.
Martin's form in the BFL saw him selected by the Pioneers and by the time he'd finished his TAC Cup career he was a top-10 draft prospect.
His one year in Sydney was reason enough for the Swans to ask the AFL if they could add Martin to their Academy program and gain his draft rights.
The proposal was quickly, and politely, declined by the AFL.
Melbourne had the first two selections in the 2009 draft and they picked Tom Scully and Jack Trengove. The Tigers swooped on Martin with selection three.
"Dusty's top-age year with the Pioneers was outstanding,'' Sheehan said.
"He dominated for Vic Country at the national championships and was named All-Australian.
"At the draft combine he tested brilliantly. His speed and agility were super-elite.
"That set the tone for what he's shown us over the next 10 or 11 years.
"What he shares with Joel is the one-touch stuff, attack on the ball and his clean hands.
"Then Dusty has the signature "don't argue" which makes it almost impossible for him to be tackled.
"We always talk about promoting our game to a wider audience through a spectacular game. To me, Dusty is the definition of a spectacular game.
"By Saturday night he might have three premierships to his name and a third Norm Smith Medal. It's a remarkable story."
Richmond fans will say Dusty is the best player of this generation, while Geelong supporters wouldn't want anyone other than Selwood leading them into battle on Saturday night.
Supporters of the other 16 clubs in the AFL would dearly love to have either of them line up in their team.
"It's amazing to think Dusty and Joel were raised and nurtured only 30km apart and they've gone on to become great champions of our game,'' Sheehan said.
"The Bendigo Jockey Club is known as the Nursery of Champions, maybe (Bendigo) football should pinch that title," he added with a chuckle.
Read more: Selwood's 300-game milestone
Read more: Dusty's career reaching new heights
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