Colm Cooper’s body told him the time was right to end his glorious inter-county career with Kerry.

The 33-year-old put emotion to one side when he told boss Eamonn Fitzmaurice that he would have to plan without the Dr Crokes man, who made his debut in 2002. 

The eight-time All Star announced his retirement on Tuesday, prompting a deluge of tributes from those who regarded Cooper as the best player of a generation.

In the build-up to last month’s club final, the forward struggled with a couple of minor injuries but they revealed a bigger picture, a vista that convinced him that another tilt at Sam Maguire would not be the right decision.

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“If I can’t be at the peak of my powers in an inter-county set-up, it’s the wrong place for me to be,” Cooper told the Irish Independent.

“I want to play with freedom and that was becoming really, really difficult for me.

“And I just did not feel that I could go through another summer like last year’s which, potentially, was exactly what was going to happen given what I was experiencing in the last three months.

“That’s what was in my head – that my body was saying something to me.

“Especially when you consider what’s required now. Going into Kerry training now is like going into a championship match. Every night.

So even if Eamonn said to me, ‘We’ll manage you differently’, I had concerns because I needed to do the work.

“I want to play with freedom and that was becoming really difficult for me"

“The only soul-searching was done with myself. And I did that on purpose.

“Because if I allowed any bit of sentiment into this, I’d be back training with Kerry.

“I needed to be cold and calculated in terms of not letting public or media or friends or work colleagues influence me.”