Geelong captain Joel Selwood has announced AFL retirement on Wednesday afternoon, four days after claiming his fourth premiership medallion and first flag as a skipper.
Selwood fronted reporters, teammates and family to confirm he’s played his final AFL game, stating he made the big call six weeks ago “win, lose or draw”.
The Cats great said “one of the hardest things” he had to do was tell coach Chris Scott of his decision.
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“I didn’t want to be at 85 per cent (next year). I know that’s not good enough,” he said.
“I actually told him (Scott) that I was OK.
“I had to turn around and have another hug before I walked out.”
Selwood soaks up Mad Monday celebrations | 02:35
Selwood’s exit is a similar path to the one taken by Hawthorn legend Shane Crawford, who also announced his retirement in the aftermath of the Hawks’ 2008 flag following 305 games for the club.
Selwood was emotional as he revealed he kept his decision a secret from his teammates before telling some close to him on Tuesday morning that he’d made up his mind.
“The visit to Hawk’s house wasn’t easy,” Selwood revealed after visiting Tom Hawkins – who he played more than 300 AFL games alongside.
“We played over 300 games together which is ridiculous.
“It’s been unbelievable. I’ve had great support all the way along.
“I’ve loved going to work. You don’t come to the Geelong footy club to go to work for money – you come for the experience and I’ve loved every part of that.”
Selwood, who played 355 games across 16 seasons, departs the Cats and the game with one of the great CVs as a four-time premiership player, six-time All-Australian, four-time AFLPA most courageous player award-winner, three-time best and fairest and the record for the most VFL/AFL games captained.
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Selwood said he didn’t want his retirement to be swayed by whether or not he went out a winner.
“I’d made that decision and I wasn’t changing it,” he said.
“It made walking around that ground on the weekend (after the premiership win) even sweeter.”
As to what’s next, Selwood laughed as he said he planned to buy golf clubs while pregnant wife Brit would plan a holiday. But he is yet to lock in a role for 2023 and beyond.
“I’ll take some time now. My phone’s turned off but my manager’s is on,” he laughed.
“I’m open to anything. I love working in team environments. Whether that be footy or other sports.
“I walked into this club when I was 18. I may be walking out of the locker room, I may be still working here or I may be working elsewhere. I haven’t got that answer for you.”
After playing a key role during the Geelong dynasty that saw the club claim the 2007, 2009 and 2011 flags, Selwood led the Cats to the 2022 premiership last weekend and held the club aloft alongside Chris Scott.
He was drafted with Pick 7 in the 2006 draft.
Saturday’s triumph over the Swans marked Selwood’s 40th final — a VFL/AFL record after passing Michael tuck’s previous record of 39.
The 34-year old also holds the AFL record for the most games as captain, having led the Cats in 245 matches ahead of Carlton great Stephen Kernahan’s 226 appearances as skipper.
But Selwood’s legacy was just as strong off the field, highlighted by the fact he won the 2022 Jim Stynes Award for his years of service to the community, as well as the beautiful images from Grand Final day of him with Levi Ablett, club waterboy Sam Moorfoot and Auskicker of the Year Archie Stockdale.
AFL 360 co-host Gerard Whateley declared Selwood was arguably “the greatest Geelong player of all”.
“So (Graham) ‘Polly’ Farmer changed the game and Gary Ablett Sr player it like no other player has – and may ever will – but the longevity of Selwood’s period of excellence, which he defines, he transforms the club from when he arrives as a teenager,” Whateley told Fox Footy on Monday night.
“He’s not ‘the right player at the right time’, he is the player that is the central driver of it. It starts in 2007 and it finishes in 2022.
“His tenderness as a man and his head-in-the-hole, blood-and-guts football that has defined his playing days – it was there for us over and over, both examples, on the most perfect day – it’ll ripple through history.
“In 30 years’ time, he’ll be elevated to legend status in the Australian Football Hall of Fame and those images, with Levi, with Sammy over the fence, with the boots to the Auskicker and the way he was the best player on the ground in the first quarter is where the game was won.”
Selwood soaks up Mad Monday celebrations | 02:35
Former Hawthorn sharpshooter Ben Dixon said Selwood adapted his game to every trend that’d been thrown his way and had been well supported and managed by the Cats.
“He’s a deadset chameleon. He blends in to where the game’s going,” Dixon told foxfooty.com.au last week.
“He’s gone through multiple eras now in terms of the way footy has transformed and he’s just adopted his football acumen. That’s a huge tick.
“The Cats have been enormous for 10 years now about managing players. And for Selwood, the management of his game time throughout the years has been so smart, playing him off half-back and playing through the mids pinch-hitting here or there.
“I think his legacy’s unquestionable. His ability to lead Geelong and now possibly to a flag 11 years later is just unheard of. Normally, it goes the other way when you get older and you step aside to let someone else lead. But he‘s enforced leadership into that group that no one can do. No one can do it other than him.
“So his legacy will be, one, of longevity but, two, his ability to lead a team for such a long period of time for success – that‘s the full stop.”