Retiring Sydney star Adam Goodes has been rated the greatest Swan of all by the man whose club appearance record he broke.
Goodes 35, made a low-key exit from the game he has graced since 1999, announcing his retirement to teammates in the sheds after Saturday’s semi-final home loss to North Melbourne.
He eschewed the fanfare of an emotional public farewell out on the field and the chance to be chaired off the ground, like retiring teammate Rhyce Shaw.
At the end of an epic career and tumultuous season, Goodes leaves the game having chalked up 372 appearances, the eighth highest tally of all time and the most by an indigenous player.
He won two premiership and Brownlow Medals, a Rising Star award, made the All-Australian team four times, captained Sydney and the Australian side in the international rules series and was named in the indigenous team of the century.
“I think he goes down as probably our greatest Swan,” said former Swans forward Michael O’Loughlin, whose record of 303 games Goodes surpassed in 2012.
“Thats no disrespect to anyone who has played for us before, but I think the influence and the winning percentage games that he has been able to play, for the longevity.
“Your superstars play for a long time and he’s absolutely one of those without a question.
“It was a pretty emotional night.”
Sydney coach John Longmire echoed O’Loughlin’s lofty valuation of Goodes.
“We’ve had a few great players over the last few years retire, none as great as Goodesy, no disrespect to the others,” Longmire said.
“He’s been an absolute icon to this footy club, 18 years, a couple of Brownlows, four All-Australians, he’s been a superstar of the game,”
After taking a week off following booing from opposing fans at several away matches, Goodes finished his final season in strong fashion.
He was among Sydney’s best players in the back-to-back finals losses which denied him the opportunity to become the first Swan to win three premierships.
“The old man finished his season off pretty well over the last month and a half, two months,” O’Loughlin joked.
Longmire said it would be hard to imagine life at Sydney without Goodes and was full of praise for the way he had conducted himself though a turbulent campaign.
“He’s been absolutely superb in the face of some really tough times for him,” Longmire said.
“He’ll take a deep breath now, it’s been a tough night and a tough season for him.”
O’Loughlin attributed the success of his close friend and former teammate Goodes to his strong work ethic.
“I watched him walk in as a 17-year-old and he walks away now as the games record holder and one of our greatest ever players, not only in our club, but in the history of the game, so really proud of the person he’s become,” O’Loughlin said.
“But also obviously the football player that he’s been able to turn himself into through pure hard work,”
Shaw described Goodes’s decision to retire as ” bit of a shock” and would have liked his colleague to have left the ground in similar fashion to himself.
“It would have been fantastic for Goodesy to be up there with me, but he wanted to do it his own way,” Shaw said.