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Adam Goodes made a surprise appearance at the SCG on Saturday as the Sydney Swans marked the 10-year anniversary of their 2012 premiership.
Reports emerged during the week that Goodes wouldn't be attending the celebrations because of a prior family commitment.
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However AFL fans were stunned to see him join his teammates on Saturday as the 2012 side were paraded in a lap of honour before the Swans' clash with Gold Coast.
The 2012 side then formed a guard of honour as the current players ran out onto the field.
Not in attendance were Shane Mumford, Rhyce Shaw and Ryan O’Keefe because of coaching commitments.
But the big talking point was the presence of Goodes, who made a rare appearance at the AFL despite the reports he couldn't attend.
“It’s splendid to see, and reaffirms the notion he is not disenfranchised with the Sydney Swans in any way," Gerard Whateley said on AFL Nation.
“His reluctance is with anything to do with an AFL endorsed function or from headquarters.”
Goodes did the lap of honour with the rest of the 2012 Premiership team and I am CRYING
— Imo (@imogenrq) May 7, 2022
— Oliver Caffrey (@ollycaffrey) May 7, 2022
How good to see Adam Goodes at Sydney's 2012 premiership reunion!? pic.twitter.com/6Wp4tQsh6w
— Triple M Footy (@triplemfooty) May 7, 2022
— Joe Moore (@joedmoore1979) May 7, 2022
— Bruce Mundell (@BruceMundell) May 7, 2022
I am so thrilled that Adam Goodes took part in the premiership reunion lap of honour 😭
— Loz (@Lozzemarine) May 7, 2022
Adam Goodes' fractured relationship with AFL
Goodes has made few public appearances at the AFL since retiring from the game in 2015.
He hung up his boots in heartbreaking circumstances after relentless booing from fans plagued the final two years of his career.
He declined an offer to take part in the annual parade for retired players at the 2015 grand final and has also knocked back invitations to attend major functions like the Brownlow Medal.
Last year he rejected an offer to be inducted into the AFL Hall of Fame despite being unanimously nominated for the honour.
Goodes made national headlines in 2013 when he called out a teenage Collingwood fan who called him an 'ape' during a game in Indigenous Round.
Collingwood president Eddie McGuire apologised to Goodes over the incident, but days later joked on radio that the Swans star could be used to market the 'King Kong' musical in Melbourne.
Goodes was mercilessly booed by opposition fans at Swans games not long after, and eventually brought his 372-game career to a close at the end of the 2015 season.
Discussing Goodes' Hall of Fame decision last year, former AFL players Tim Watson and Garry Lyon both expressed surprise and sadness.
“I was surprised that he’d rejected it ... he’s been retired for five years, I thought in that five years there might have been that repatriation that had taken place,” Watson said.
“The damage that occurred at that time, I thought it might have eased on him mentally and he might have been able to repair some of those bridges between himself and the game and feel differently about his time and then just appreciated all the great things about the game that were delivered to him, that he earned for himself.
“We always say time is a great healer, I just thought that the time may have healed all those differences. Clearly, it hasn’t."
Lyon said he was disappointed that the treatment Goodes received had culminated in his Hall of Fame rejection.
“You can only understand if you were able to speak to Adam personally," he said.
"I’m really disappointed, not in him but for him that in his mindset he still doesn’t feel like he can receive the adulation that he deserves as a footballer."
Goodes' plight was highlighted in 2019 documentary 'The Australian Dream', while a second film 'The Final Quarter' also chronicled his experiences.
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