James Tedesco has hailed the feeling of lifting the Rugby League World Cup aloft towards the Old Trafford night sky as the finest moment of his garlanded career.
The 29-year-old Kangaroos skipper said he was proud to join some of the game's all-time greats who've led their country to global glory and reckoned he revelled in his side being pantomime villains for the 67,502-strong crowd desperate for a Samoan fairytale.
The superstar fullback delivered a stellar performance on Saturday, scoring two tries and winning the player of the match award, but said: "That's cool - but I'm just happy that we could win. That's all I wanted to do - to lead us to a World Cup victory."
Asked where this night ranked in a career that's seen him win two NRL premierships, a world club trophy, the Wally Lewis Medal, the Brad Fittler Medal and the Dally M, Tedesco said: "Yeah, probably at the top to be honest.
"Being able to captain a country for a World Cup victory, it's pretty surreal to be honest - and at Old Trafford. Not many people can say that."
And not many can say they led from the front like Tedesco, as he clocked up the most metres gained by any player (202), the most tackle busts (eight) and most runs (20) - and that's not to mention his sterling defence, capped by a try-saving tackle on Jarome Luai.
He also clearly enjoyed the boos from the English ABA - Anyone but Australia - crowd as his side proved deaf to the jeers.
"No, we weren't affected by it, we soaked it all in. We don't expect any support in England at a World Cup final - that's all part of the experience - but we enjoyed it."
Asked about his pride in defending Australia's stellar World Cup record, he added: "This three years because of COVID, we haven't been able to put this jersey on, so to be able to come over here and represent Australia well, we're proud we did that."
And he couldn't resist noting how Australia were the No.4 side in the world coming into the tournament.
"Hopefully, our ranking's gone up a bit," he said with a grin.
Tedesco had observed before the final: "There is only a handful who have captained Australia to a World Cup win, and they are legends of the game, and Immortals - so to be among those guys would be special."
And one of them, the Kangaroos' coach Mal Meninga, felt his captain was a bit special too.
"Teddy's led the side really well throughout the whole tournament," said Meninga.
"His preparations have been excellent, particularly this week. he got two tries and man of the match, all thoroughly deserved."
AUSTRALIA'S MEN'S WORLD CUP-WINNING CAPTAINS
Dick Poole (1957)
Johnny Raper (1968)
Ron Coote (1970)
Graeme Langlands (1975)
Arthur Beetson (1977)
Wally Lewis (1988)
Mal Meninga (1992)
Brad Fittler (1995, 2000)
Cameron Smith (2013, 2017)
James Tedesco (2022)