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Patriots head coach Bill Belichick releases a statement on Tom Brady’s retirement: ‘The ultimate competitor and winner’

Related: Tom Brady officially announces his retirement from the NFL

Dallas Cowboys v New England Patriots Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

Bill Belichick saw something in Tom Brady before anyone else.

The New England Patriots head coach, in his first draft with the team, selected Tom Brady in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft. He named him the full-time starter halfway through his second season, just eight months after making Drew Bledsoe the highest paid player in NFL history, and he stood by his side throughout a 20-year journey that brought six Super Bowl titles to New England.

On Wednesday, following Brady’s retirement, Belichick spelled out exactly what Brady meant to him in a statement provided by the Patriots:

I am privileged to have drafted and coached Tom Brady, the ultimate competitor and winner. Tom’s humble beginning in professional football ultimately ended with him becoming the best player in NFL history. Tom consistently performed at the highest level against competition that always made him the number one player to stop. His pursuit of excellence was inspirational. Tom was professional on and off the field, and carried himself with class, integrity, and kindness. I thank Tom for his relentless pursuit of excellence and positive impact on me and the New England Patriots for 20 years.

Brady and Belichick played and coached in 326 games together, including a record 41 playoff contests, and record breaking nine Super Bowl appearances. Their 219 victories together is the most by any head coach/quarterback duo in the history of the NFL.

The two future hall of famers are linked through a dynastic run that will likely never be replicated.