Sydney Swans star and 2014 Australian of the year, Adam Goodes made a low-key exit from AFL last night following the club’s semi-final loss to North Melbourne.
The 35-year-old veteran and dual Brownlow Medallist announced his retirement to teammates after the game, ending a remarkable career which spanned over 372 games across 17 seasons.
Coach John Longmire said it was an emotional moment for everyone.
“I was a bit emotional but he was fine, he handled it really well, so he’ll take a deep breath now and he needs it,” Longmire said.
“It’s probably been pretty settled in his mind for a while, he’s kept it to himself really well because it’s never really been about Adam, he’s wanted to make sure it was about the season and trying to be competitive as long as we could.”
Fittingly, Goodes kicked the first goal of the match and was one of the Swans’ best, finishing with 2.2 in the season ending 26-point loss, 77-51, the team’s second straight finals defeat.
With defender Rhyce Shaw also retiring after 16 seasons, first at Collingwood and the last seven at the Swans, Longmire was conscious of the changing of the guard.
“No matter how many great players we’ve had retire, and we’ve had a few over the past few years, none as great as ‘Goodesy’ with no disrespect to the others,” Longmire
“He’s been an absolute icon of this footy club, and a superstar of the game.
“It’s probably hard to imagine life without the footy club but he’ll be right, he’s pretty successful in whatever he does.”
Former Swans player Michael O’Loughlin, whose club record of 304 games was surpassed by Goodes three years ago, and who formed the Go Foundation with Goodes in 2009 to give indigenous kids a better education, was there and hugged his cousin after the news.
Adam Goodes is one of AFL’s all-time greats. The South Australian, born in the Yorke Peninsula port town of Wallaroo, holds the VFL/AFL games record for the Sydney Swans, and played more matches than any other indigenous player.
He took out the Rising Star award following his debut in 1999 and was a four-time All Australian (2003, 2006, 2009, 2011) and well as receiving the Brownlow Medal in 2003 and 2011.
He won the club’s best and fairest, the Bob Skilton Medal three times (2003, 2006, 2011) and as well as being Swans co-caption 2009-2012, he was the club’s leading goalkicker for three years running 2009-2011.
Goodes was part of the club’s renaissance, winning its first AFL Premiership in 72 years in 2005, followed by a second pennant in 2012, as well as making the 2006 and 2014 grand finals.
He was part of the Indigenous Team of the Century and captained Australia in the international rules series.
Goodes was named the 2014 Australian of the Year for his community work through the Go Foundation and advocacy against racism.
Retiring defender Rhyce Shaw, 33, who was chaired from Olympic stadium by his teammates, paid tribute to Goodes.
“He spoke about how it’s been such a long journey for him, 18 years, coming up here and just giving it everything he’s got,” Shaw said.
“And 372 games later he’s had enough and he’s contributed so much to the footy club and to the AFL. He can go out whichever way he pleases.”
Many threw their support behind Goodes following his decision to hang up his boots:
— Sydney Swans (@sydneyswans) September 19, 2015
Adam Goodes has retired. Well done to a true champion of the game.
— #AFLFinals (@AFL) September 19, 2015
Congratulations @adamroy37 on a stellar career. An inspiration to many Australians
— Qantas (@Qantas) September 19, 2015
Well played, Adam Goodes. May the sounds of cowardice and ugliness no longer ring in your ears. You're a champion and have done us proud.
— Julia Baird (@bairdjulia) September 19, 2015
— Chris Bath (@ChrisBathTV) September 19, 2015
His retirement follows a season marred by controversy.
In July, Goodes became a lightning rod for race relations following an onslaught of booing by rival fans which saw the Sydney Swans take a break from AFL.
Critics labelled him a “perpetual victim” and “sook” by bringing politics into his football.
Goodes was booed again in his final game on Saturday night, but also received constant cheers from Sydney supporters among the disappointing 31,000 crowd.
His coach said paid tribute to the way he handled the controversy.
“He’s been absolutely superb in the face of some really tough times, and the way he’s been able to handle himself and go about his business, yet still say the things that he feels and get that balance as good as what he’s got has been a real credit to him,” Longmire said.
“It’s been tough but he’s managed to come through it really well and by no means has his career been defined on what’s happened at different times this season.
“His career has been defined by the type of player he’s been for a long time.”
With 372 games to his name, Adam Goodes ends his career 8th on all time record, just behind legendary Essendon defender Dustin Fletcher, who retired from the Bombers this season, aged 40, after an astonishing 400 games.
A knee injury in the 2012 grand final prevented Goodes from adding to his already impressive tally. He missed second half of 2013 with a right knee injury after just 12 games and it threatened him again in 2014, yet he forced his way back into the side, and ended 2015 with 21 games and 25 goals to his name.
Goodes kicked 464 goals in his career.
Rhyce Shaw, whose career ends with 237 games, said his body was also feeling it and it was time to go.
“This club’s been a massive part of my life both on and off the field. It’s made me a better person. I’m sad to leave,” he said.
The No. 2, who bagged one goal this year and finishes with 44, paid tribute to his No. 37 teammate.
“The time’s right for Goodesy, that’s all you can really say. He wanted to retire this way and he’s done it and he deserves every accolade he gets,” Shaw said.
“It would have been fantastic for Goodesy to be up there with me, but he wanted to do it his own way.”
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