After entering the AFL season under extreme pressure to keep his job, Melbourne's Simon Goodwin has been crowned coach of the year.
The 44-year-old has spearheaded the Demons' remarkable rise, steering them to within one win of breaking a 57-year premiership drought.
They take on the Western Bulldogs in the grand final at Optus Stadium on Saturday night.
It comes after the Demons endured a horror five-win campaign two years ago and another disappointing season last year when they finished ninth.
Goodwin, who took over from Paul Roos in 2017, admits there was a period of time when the game consumed him.
But he said a series of changes implemented after the 2019 disaster, which followed a preliminary final appearance in 2018, had paid off.
"It was a year that was really disappointing and there was a lot of pressure building on the footy club from an expectation perspective," Goodwin said on Fox Footy.
"I needed to make a change personally, and I could sense in my own mind and my own coaching that the game was starting to get hold of me.
"We live in a really brutal industry where the spotlight's always on you and I engaged in some mentors away from the game that really showed me a different way of looking at things and created a different energy.
"Coming into this year, it was really about making sure that I did it the way that I wanted to do it and being true to myself and true to our footy club."
Goodwin won the AFL Coaches Association award - named in honour of AFL/VFL great Allan Jeans - with 258 votes ahead of grand-final opponent Luke Beveridge (193) and GWS mentor Leon Cameron (84).
The coaching accolade completed an AFLCA double for Melbourne, with hard-nosed midfielder Clayton Oliver recently named the association's champion player of the year for 2021.
"I had enormous belief in our playing group and the foundations and the people that I'm working with," Goodwin said.
"In the end, I sit here today as a reflection of a lot of people's work and the club's work that has been done over a long, long period of time."
More than 120 coaches voted on the awards announced on Tuesday night.
Carlton development coach Luke Power was named assistant coach of the year and West Coast stalwart Ian Miller won the AFLCA lifetime achievement award, named in honour of Neale Daniher.
Australian Associated Press