The one question that cracked the retiring champion

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 consecutive premiership captain to retire after leading the team to the flag. The others were Tom Harley in 2009 and Cameron Ling in 2011.

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He revealed he decided to take time out from his career about six weeks before the grand final and says Saturday’s win did not affect the decision.

Geelong captain announces retirement

“Next year I could probably go 85 percent and everybody could take care of me, but I had to be all in. I just couldn’t do that,” Selwood said.

“Until the grand final day, I couldn’t even tell a few of my best friends. I couldn’t tell my teammates, I couldn’t let them play on their emotions.”

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

“The journey was good.”

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

Selwood was drafted seventh in 2006 and was a member of Geelong’s premiership clubs in 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2022.

A moment of the Cats’ touchdown during the run

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

Cats coach Chris Scott could not speak highly enough of his outgoing captain

“All things considered, he’s the best football player I’ve ever seen,” Scott said

“Best to come out on top, I can’t think of a better way for Joel to end.”

The manager appeared emotional as he spoke of Selwood as a person rather than a player.

“(He) will be irreplaceable. But what Joel has done is he’s built our football club in so many ways,” Scott said.

“We won the lottery because we got to spend about ten years with Joel Selwood.

“You could forget everything he did on the football field and the rest would still be amazing.”

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

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

“I’m going to miss seeing him every day. Yeah,” Selwood said as he fought back tears.

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

“I’ve been leaning on them the whole time, they’ve been leaning on me. They probably know me better than anyone.”

Why Joel Selwood is one of AFL’s most respected figures

Selwood has melted hearts during his glittering AFL career, including Saturday’s grand final against the Sydney Swans.

As Geelong came down the tunnel to hit the MCG, club legend Gary Ablett Jr was waiting with three-year-old son Levi.

Selwood picked Levi up and took him over the banner to the ground.

Then, during the team’s post-match lap of honour, Selwood found the club’s head waterman Sammy Moorfoot in the front row of the Cats cheerleaders.

Selwood hugged him over the fence before inviting him to the ground.

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

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