Phil Hogan, the EU trade commissioner who resigned on Wednesday, was a "big beast" of Irish politics whose bullish demeanour was matched by a nimble talent for backroom manoeuvring.
Known as "Big Phil" for his towering stature, Hogan weathered 27 years of Irish national politics before being elevated to the commissioner role -- one of the most powerful yet challenging EU posts -- in 2019.
A hulking presence in delicate round spectacles, in Ireland he is regarded as a political bruiser and a self-assured electoral maven who until now has sidestepped scandal.
Hogan's tenure in the top EU trade job, cut short by controversy over his attendance at an Irish parliamentary golf society in breach of coronavirus restrictions, coincided with Brexit negotiations between Britain and the bloc.
Dublin had come to regard him as a key asset, using his hefty profile to play "bad cop" in talks to protect Irish trade interests threatened by the split.
In Brussels it is said he brought nous to the job -- and his previous position as agriculture commissioner -- thanks to his upbringing on a family farm in rural Kilkenny, southeast Ireland, where he was born in 1960.
Hogan entered national politics in 1987 as a senator in Ireland's upper house of parliament, before winning a seat in the lower Dail two years later which he held until 2014.
Serving the centre-right Fine Gael party, he became a junior finance minister in 1994 but quickly resigned over a budget leak.
Undiminished, he became Fine Gael parliamentary party chair and made a failed run for leader before acting as director of elections in the 2011 poll which brought the party its best ever result.
- Stealth campaign -
Under prime minister Enda Kenny, Hogan was rewarded with the position of environment minister.
But presiding over the introduction of an unpopular new property tax and water charge, he was "winded badly by heavy knocks following badly thought-through decisions", the Irish Times said in 2014.
Later that year he found his way to Brussels, becoming agriculture commissioner under Jean-Claude Juncker.
"He's read the tea leaves and knows it's better for him to go to Europe now," a politician who knew him for decades told RTE at the time, signalling his reputation for tact.
Hogan spent five years in the role where his personal links to farming were hailed an asset as the EU negotiated with South America to clinch the contested Mercosur trade deal.
He was then propelled to trade commissioner in 2019 after waging "a stealth campaign" for the role, according to Politico.
Hogan took over the job as the EU was in the throes of trade battles with the Trump administration in the United States and trade tensions with China.
Just months into the job, he caught the EU by surprise when he proposed himself as a possible candidate to top the World Trade Organization but his candidacy failed to gain traction.