Lucas Radebe's booming laughter travels from his home in South Africa and loses none of its warmth by the time it reaches the other end of the phone line in Dublin.
"Oh my God," he bellows. "Your accent! It's like Gary Kelly . . . I will always love Kells. He has been one of the most special people in my life."
This now seems like the most obvious place to start.
Before he discusses the scars and anger - both physical and mental - that remain in his home country following Apartheid, and the reasons why Nelson Mandela described him as 'my hero', the former Leeds captain fights back the tears as he explains his bond with Kelly.
"He is selfless. It makes me emotional when I think about him, and his wife. He's the number one in my life when I think about Leeds.
"As a player and a person, he's one who really made a mark in my life. At some point I got to a level where I think I owe him something."
Both were one-club men in England, Leeds lifers who committed themselves to Elland Road. Kelly is eighth on the all-time appearance record with 531, while Radebe, whose latter part of his career was blighted by injury, made 197 Premier League appearances. Only five men - Kelly, Ian Harte, Nigel Martyn, Lee Bowyer and David Wetherall - can boast more.
What separates Kelly and Radebe from their peers among the Leeds faithful is their connection to the club, and a sense of social responsibility that helped strengthened the bond further. Both have lost loved ones to cancer, Kelly donating the €1million takings from his testimonial to open a support centre in his hometown of Drogheda.
It is in memory of his sister Mandy, who passed away in 1998 at the age of just 35, while Radebe, whose wife Feziwe died of bowel cancer 12 years ago, hosted a programme of testimonial events to raise £500,000 for eight charities in the UK and his native South Africa.
"I will never forget my testimonial game," Radebe begins. "Kells signed a personal cheque to me for £10,000. It was not from the club, it was not on behalf of other players. It was his own money, the money that he would use for his own family, his own wife and children.
"That blew me away. He wanted to support me and that is the kind of guy he is. You don't find people like that everywhere. People now keep everything for themselves. They are greedy, some people think it is all for them and they deserve it all.
"But people like Kells contribute to your life as a person, not just a footballer. As an African, as a young boy from a township in Soweto, meeting people like Gar Kelly, this is how humans should be. I told you it makes me emotional, but he is also a funny guy. A really funny guy. Amazing."
Radebe laughs again.
"Let me tell you this story about Kells and Stephen McPhail. We were in pre-season in Scotland. We went out at night and I came back early. They came back late . . . Oh my god I can see it again now. Kells and Stephen knocked on my door at around 2am.
"Kells was pushing a pram and Stephen was inside. When I opened the door Stephen has his finger in his mouth sucking it like a little baby and Kells was laughing. I should have been angry but all I could do was burst out laughing too. These are some of the things I miss the most. Funny people, genuine people."
David O'Leary is another who evokes fond memories. A team-mate turned coach, he eventually became manager, leading Leeds to the semi-finals of the Champions League in 2001 at a time when Radebe's influence was waning due to injury.
"We used to call him 'Paddy', even when he was assistant to George (Graham) we called him that. Then that changed when he was the boss. I remember, he came to the room and said to me: 'No more Paddy, now it's gaffer'. It had to change but sometimes we would forget and still call him 'Paddy', then he would look at you with a stare. "And when I saw him at the celebration for 100 years of the club, so many memories came back. Amazing."
Radebe's heart is split between Leeds and South Africa. Last month he took part in a virtual 'Walk to Freedom' alongside Springbok hero Francois Pienaar, the aim being to raise further funds as the country fights Covid-19.
"This pandemic, it's affecting us in a different way because of the societies we live in. How do you social distance in a township that has everybody on top of each other?
"How do people sanitize when they cannot afford soap and clean water?"
The laughter stops.
But Radebe doesn't.
"I do understand where I come from. I'm not detached from people I grew up with. I did leave for my career but I came back after what I achieved. The experiences I've had overseas have been fantastic, now imagine how many kids here now would love to just have a quality of life, to live properly in their own home not feel like they need to travel abroad.
"I feel it was my responsibility not to forget where I came from. Friends and family where I grew up. Being back, back into the township, I hope that it inspires the young people."
Growing up in the 1970s and becoming a man in the '80s, Radebe was 21 years old when Nelson Mandela was released from Robben Island. "We were the first youngsters to have opportunities after Apartheid, until then we never saw a proper career with opportunities."
His were almost taken away when he was shot at the beginning of his playing career with the Kaizer Chiefs. On a visit home to Soweto, where his mother ran a local tuck shop, he was hit while running errands.
The assailants were never caught.
"People in our country have got all kinds of scars," he says. "I'm one of them. I have friend who died. I have a scar on my back that was put there by a gun and for us to open up, that brings hope."
A decade on from South Africa hosting the World Cup, Radebe describes the sense of deflation that still lingers.
"We expected changes in football and the way we live and how we are seen. It exposed what we didn't have, (it) didn't reach the expectations we thought it would. It didn't make people's lives what they should be.
"Apartheid played a massive role inflicting those scars in our heads. That exposed the anger that we have been through. To taste the life of what could, what can be attainable in life and what people missed out on in life.
"We have seen people in power misusing their power. We have seen that gap grow between the elite and the poor. All these years we have been fighting against that."