Buddy Franklin took a pointed swipe at his critics on Tuesday after announcing he will continue his career in 2023 with the Sydney Swans.
Ending months of speculation about his future in which he was linked with a move to the Brisbane Lions, Franklin re-signed with the Swans on a one-year deal on Monday night.
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Franklin joined Sydney from Hawthorn in 2014 on a landmark nine-year deal worth $10 million.
Andrew Demetriou, who was AFL CEO at the time, famously said he found it hard to imagine that Franklin would still be playing in 2022.
“I don’t think nine years can be right,” Demetriou said at the time.
“I think it’ll be very difficult for him to be playing in 2022.”
Current AFL boss Gillon McLachlan also expressed his concerns about the deal in 2013.
“I think this is a risky agreement, but on the other hand administrations and boards run football clubs," he said.
“I’ve conceded that I do think it’s a risky agreement.”
Not only is he still playing, but Franklin has helped lead his side to a fourth grand final in the last 10 years and his third while with Sydney.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Franklin said he is particularly proud to have made the bumper nine-year deal a success.
"There have been a lot of knockers over the years, haven't there, really?," he said
"When I first got here, people were knocking that I wouldn't get there, I wouldn't make it.
"So I've definitely proved them wrong, haven't I?"
Franklin has well and truly delivered on his deal with the Swans, winning the club's goal-kicking award six times along with two Coleman Medals and four All-Australian selections.
He has eight All-Australian blazers altogether and was made captain of the 2018 team.
Buddy Franklin hoping for first flag with Sydney
Franklin has played in two losing grand finals while with Sydney and said a flag with the Swans "would be nice ... but it will be a difficult job".
The goal-kicking ace put the contract decision on hold during the season.
"There's so much speculation and things put out there that aren't in my control," he said.
But the more he thought about it, the more the decision became clear.
"I'm over the moon with this decision," he said. "As the year went on, I still have that passion and drive to want to compete.
"I'm still pumped, I'm ready to go this weekend. It was purely based around what was best for my family."
Franklin, a future AFL Hall of Fame legend, said he wanted the decision made now to avoid any distractions for the Swans in grand final week, with Sydney to start as underdogs against the Cats.
"I just wanted to make this about the boys. This is a huge game for us," he said.
Franklin has played 340 games and kicked 1047 goals - famously reaching 1000 in round two against Geelong - putting him fifth on the AFL's all-time goals list.
He played 182 games for Hawthorn between 2005-13 before he shocked the game with his move north to Sydney.
This will be his sixth grand final, with the first two resulting in premierships with Hawthorn.
A flag is the only prize missing from his 158 games with Sydney.
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