Buddy Franklin was on the verge of retiring from the AFL multiple times last season, the Sydney Swans star's wife Jesinta Franklin has revealed.
Franklin became the fifth player in VFL/AFL history to kick more than 1000 career goals when he hit the mark early on in the 2022 season.
Speculation grew around his future as the end of the massive nine-year, $10 million contract Franklin signed ahead of the 2014 season drew nearer.
As the Swans charged towards an impressive grand final appearance in 2022, Franklin was reportedly in two minds about retiring throughout the season according to his wife, with the pair weighing up their plans for the future against Franklin's career on-field.
It wasn't until the week of the grand final against Geelong that Franklin made his mind up to play on for another year, with Jesinta and the family set to relocate to the Gold Coast in the interim.
She told Newscorp's Stellar Magazine that Franklin had agonised over the decision almost the entire season.
"It was truly a very difficult decision," Jesinta said.
“We’re at that point in our lives where we’re starting to think about the next chapter and the next stage, and what that looks like.
"This year, as time went on, he just wasn’t sure what he wanted to do. He was still thoroughly enjoying football, but I think the pull of family and spending more time with the kids intensified.
“Just before the grand final, he said, ‘I feel like in my heart and my body, I need to go on for another year.’ I support him fully in that.
"I’m probably more ready for him to retire than he is; among the football world, it’s quite known that when the footy season is on, the partners do take on a lot more of the responsibility of parenting and life because there’s very little flexibility in their schedules and the fixture and all of that.
“I’m his wife... and I want to support him in following his dreams and goals. Football careers don’t go on forever.
"The kids are just starting to understand football and go to the games, and the fact that we get to have another year of that is really, really exciting. It was a big decision."
Buddy Franklin delights in proving AFL critics wrong
Announcing his one-year extension with the Swans prior to their AFL grand final loss to Geelong, Franklin delighted in having proved a number of critics wrong regarding his landmark deal with the Swans in 2014.
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 back in 2013.
“I’ve conceded that I do think it’s a risky agreement.”
Not only is he still playing, but Franklin helped lead his side to a fourth grand final in the last 10 years and his third while with Sydney.
Speaking to reporters prior to the 2022 decider, 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.
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