AFL Geelong Cats Joel Selwood

Geelong captain Joel Selwood has announced his retirement from the AFL after 355 games for the Cats.

Selwood confirmed the news at a press conference on Wednesday, five days after lifting the premiership cup at the MCG.

Selwood becomes the club’s third successive premiership captain to retire after leading the team to a flag. The others were Tom Harley in 2009 and Cameron Ling in 2011.

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He revealed he made the decision to call time on his career about six weeks before the grand final, and says Saturday’s victory did not influence the decision.

Geelong captain announces retirement

“I could go probably at 85 per cent next year, and everyone could look after me, but I had to be all in. I just couldn’t do that,” Selwood said.

“I couldn’t even tell a couple of my best mates until grand final day. I couldn’t tell my teammates, I couldn’t let them play on emotion.

“It’s been unbelievable – I’ve had great support the whole way along.

“The journey has been good.”

The 34-year-old won four premierships and played 355 games.

Selwood was pick No.7 in the 2006 draft, and was a member of Geelong’s 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2022 premiership sides.

Touching Cats moment during run out

He also holds the AFL’s record for most games as captain, having led the Cats for 226 matches.

Cats coach Chris Scott could not praise his retiring captain enough.

“When you take everything into consideration, he is the best footy player I’ve ever seen,” Scott said.

“The greatest going out on top, I can’t think of a better way for Joel to finish.”

The coach looked emotional when speaking about Selwood the person, rather than the player.

“(He) will be irreplaceable. But what Joel has done is set our footy club up in so many ways,” Scott said.

“We won the footy lottery being able to spend a decade or so with Joel Selwood.

“You could forget about everything he’s done on the footy field, and the rest would still be amazing.”

Selwood himself held it together for most of the press conference, but was on the verge of tears when asked about his teammates, and in particular Tom Hawkins.

The pair played more than 300 AFL games together, and they shared an emotional embrace when the siren sounded on Saturday.

“I’ll miss seeing him every day. Yep,” Selwood said as he fought back tears.

“I’ll miss seeing him every day, going to work, leaning on him. Tom and Harry (Taylor), we got to go through the whole journey together, basically.

“I was leaning on them the whole time, they were leaning on me. They probably know me better than anyone else.”

Why Joel Selwood is one of the AFL’s most revered figures

Selwood melted hearts throughout his glittering AFL career, including at the grand final against the Sydney Swans on Saturday.

As Geelong were coming up the tunnel to run onto the MCG, club legend Gary Ablett Jr was waiting with three-year-old son Levi.

Selwood scooped up Levi and took him through the banner and onto the ground.

Then, during the team’s lap of honour after the game, Selwood found the club’s head waterboy Sammy Moorfoot in the front row of the Cats cheer squad.

Selwood gave him a hug over the fence, before inviting him onto the ground.

Moorfoot completed the team’s lap of honour while wearing Jeremy Cameron’s premiership medal, before joining the team in the sheds.

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