AFL fans left saddened by double retirement blow: 'Telling me to stop'

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·Sports Reporter
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Josh Kennedy and Steven Motlop are pictured side by side.
West Coast leading goalkicker Josh Kennedy and Port Adelaide's Steven Motlop have announced their AFL retirements. Pictures: Getty Images

Two of the AFL's most exciting talents have decided to call time on their careers as the finals approach, with West Coast's Josh Kennedy and Port Adelaide's Steven Motlop announcing their retirement.

Fans have paid tribute to the pair on social media, with Kennedy to retire after this weekend's clash against Adelaide at Perth's Optus Stadium.

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Kennedy and Motlop's decision comes a day after Fremantle great David Mundy announced he was retiring after 371 games.

Kennedy, West Coast's all-time leading goalkicker, attributed his decision to a long-term knee injury that has simply proven too stubborn to continue playing.

The 34-year-old said his passion and desire to play hadn't changed, but his body simply wasn't allowing him to compete at the level he expected of himself.

After arriving at West Coast as part of former club champion Chris Judd's departure to Carlton in 2007, Kennedy went on to kick 704 goals for the club in an illustrious career capped by the 2018 premiership.

With the Eagles playing their final two games of the 2022 season on the road, Sunday's clash with Adelaide will be a fitting farewell for the 292-game veteran.

"My knee is a big reason for retiring," Kennedy said.

"Mentally the drive is still there to play, but my body is just telling me to stop.

"It's just a typical knee after a few surgeries. It's fine. It's just gone through a fair bit in the last 17 years.

"Body wise it's probably sitting on that empty bit where your fuel gauge sits there flashing red with zero Ks, but you still drive a bit. You've probably got 30km left."

Eagles fans and the wider footy world were quick to pay tribute to the prolific forward, the bearded Kennedy having tasted both despair and glory in his years with the club.

Kennedy played a key role in West Coast's five-point grand final win over Collingwood in 2018, tallying three goals, 11 marks, and 18 disposals.

"Josh is going to be one of the game's greats and one of the club's greats," Eagles coach Adam Simpson said.

"What he's done in my time at the club, it's just been a pleasure to see and watch. Coleman Medals, the ability to stand up in big games. Clutch, not just goals, but clutch moments."

Port Adelaide, Geelong goalkicker Steven Motlop retires from AFL

Motlop announced his AFL retirement on Tuesday, effective immediately, following a career than spanned 217 games across 14 seasons.

Remarkably, the 31-year-old played in five losing preliminary finals, three of which came at Geelong (2013, 2016, 2017).

Motlop arrived at Port Adelaide via free agency at the end of 2017, and he tasted more preliminary final disappointment in 2020 and 2021.

"14 years is a long time in the game, especially in the position I play," Motlop said of his decision to retire.

"It was always a childhood dream to play in the AFL and I'll always be grateful to Geelong and to Port Adelaide for giving me the opportunity to achieve that dream.

"As a kid you just want to play in finals. I played in five preliminary finals and while it would have been nice to have won one, playing in those big games alongside my teammates is something I'll always look back on fondly."

Similarly to Kennedy, both Cats and Power fans fondly remembered Motlop's incredible skills on social media.

Motlop has strong family links to Port Adelaide.

His brother Daniel played for six seasons with the Power between 2006-2011, and his cousin Marlon also represented the club between 2008-2011.

"There's been a rich history of my family playing at Port Adelaide and to be able to get the opportunity come over to Adelaide, where my family was set up was a big part of why I moved across," Motlop said.

"It means a lot to say I had the chance to play at the club where I have such strong family links."

Motlop booted 229 goals across his career - the most famous of which came in the 2018 Showdown against Adelaide when he dodged and weaved through traffic to kick the match-winner from 40m out with just 24 seconds remaining.

Steven Motlop celebrates a goal for Port Adelaide.
Steven Motlop enjoyed a stellar career, playing 219 games for Geelong and Port Adelaide over 14 seasons. (Photo by Mark Brake/Getty Images)

Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley was Motlop's line coach when he first arrived at Geelong in 2009.

Hinkley said beyond Motlop's skills, speed and work rate, the classy forward had always been a good teammate.

"I was with Steven at the start of his AFL journey and also now at the end," Hinkley said.

"He has left us with some extremely fond memories with some telling contributions in key moments, but often with Steven his work might have gone unnoticed by many.

"The Motlop name is a strong one at our club. It feels like Steven has been here forever. He has made himself part of the Port Adelaide family, and he always will be."

Motlop joined Geelong with pick 39 in the 2008 national draft, was nominated as an AFL Rising Star in 2012 and part of the All-Australian squad in 2013.

With AAP

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