THE death of his beloved wife Mary Carmel last year made legendary GAA manager Mick O'Dwyer seriously consider retirement for the first time, he has revealed.
The legendary GAA manager, who has announced that he is stepping down from inter-county management, said the death of his wife and of his close friend Paidi O Se had brought him to that decision.
He stayed on as Kerry manager until 1989 and went on to manage the senior teams of Kildare, Laois, Wicklow and then, most recently, Clare.
And looking back on his managerial career that spanned 40 years, Micko said he had absolutely no regrets and had loved every moment of it.
He said he was now "hoping to get back out playing a bit of golf and attending games".
On his decision to retire, Micko (77) told the Irish Independent: "Of course, the passing of my wife didn't help and really made my mind up that it was time to go.
"When fellas like Paidi O Se were passing away, people I trained, and John Egan and Tim Kennelly, great players, great men and wonderful people, it was time to go.
"That team of '75 to '86 were an unbelievable bunch of men and I suppose I was so close to them because we were a team and that was it.
"The likes of them we'll never again see. They were unbelievable. I mean, to stay at the top for 12 years and get to 10 All-Irelands and win eight of them. You couldn't ask any more from any bunch of people."
Looking back at his glittering career, he said: "I think I've achieved everything that was to be achieved in the game."
Asked about highlights, he said: "Winning my first All-Ireland with Kerry in 1959 and being the first Waterville man to do it. Then, of course, managing Kerry to win the '75 All-Ireland with a very young team and then coming back to win it again two years later, after Dublin beating us twice, to beat them in the All-Ireland final in '78. They were the big ones."
He also said he took great personal pride in bringing Kildare to their first Leinster title in 60 years and then repeating that success with Laois.
"If I had to start in the morning again, I'd still do it the way I did, managing, coaching and training the team myself. I wouldn't be a great delegator. I liked the responsibility and I always had good selectors with me, which was very important.
"Management now is all about numbers around teams.
"My management scheme was myself in charge. I managed, coached, trained and did the lot with three good selectors, a good doctor, a good masseur, a physio, a good kit man and a good liaison person between myself and the county board -- that was my compliment of people."
Micko said his focus at the moment was "doing some repair work" on his own body, specifically on injuries that he had picked up since he first played minor football for Kerry in 1954, 60 years ago.
"It's all injuries I got way back in the '50s, '60s and '70s, with the result that I've got bad ankles, bad knees and back problems and what have you and I'm repairing all those things one by one now."
Although he is the most successful manager ever, the tag of "legend" doesn't sit easily with Micko.
"I did a job I loved, playing the game and managing teams, a rollercoaster all the way and thinking about being legends didn't even enter my mind. I enjoyed what I was doing and that was the most important thing of all."
Asked if there was anything that might entice him out of retirement, he said: "Well, I don't know. You can never talk too much about the future. I live in the present all the time and let the future take care of itself. But as of now, that's my decision."