Geelong coach Chris Scott has added to the mystique around Joel Selwood's retirement with a stunning revelation that speaks volumes about the four-time premiership winner's incredible character.
Scott described Selwood as "irreplaceable" after the 34-year-old announced on Wednesday that he was calling time on his extraordinary AFL career.
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Selwood confirmed the news all Cats fans were dreading when he revealed that his 355th game - Saturday's 81-point grand final win over Sydney - was his last.
The Cats great is the third consecutive Geelong captain to retire after a premiership, following Tom Harley in 2009 and Cameron Ling in 2011.
He is the only player in Geelong's history to win four flags (2007, 2009, 2011, 2022) and is the club's games record holder, with his 355 appearances coming across 16 seasons.
Selwood also played in two losing grand finals (2008 and 2020).
His commitment to the club was summed up in an extraordinary moment during Wednesday's farewell press conference, when a salary cap question was put to Geelong CEO Steve Hocking.
“I respect your question but we are here about Joel today. I don’t want to go there about what it looks like in the coming weeks,” Hocking had replied.
Scott interjected by saying: “Can I go there? I’ve gone rogue here.
“There won’t be much cap space because of Joel leaving. In all seriousness. Without spelling it out, it speaks to the man. He could have had us over a barrel – we would have paid him whatever he asked for but he never did.
“Exactly,” Hocking added.
Scott said the salary sacrifice was just one example of the selfless nature of Selwood, who the Geelong coach described as the "best player I've ever seen".
Selwood informed Scott of his decision to retire at a private meeting before the Cats' win over West Coast in round 23, which propelled them into the finals series.
"The thing that continually struck me about Joel was his ability to care for others and prioritise others," Scott said.
"When you take everything into consideration, he's the best player I've ever seen and the best representative of the Geelong footy club that you could possibly imagine.
"Even when the opportunity came for him to take a bit of the limelight, his priority was to make sure that his decision didn't negatively impact anyone else.
"He spoke really well ... to the rest of the playing group around the need to keep (the decision) from everyone so they could prioritise the team performance going into a finals series."
Geelong wanted Joel Selwood to play on
Selwood made a record-breaking 40th finals appearance in this year's showpiece - one more than Hawthorn legend Michael Tuck.
"About six weeks ago, I decided that this would be the time to finish my playing days at the Geelong footy club - win, lose, or draw - come the end of the year," Selwood said on Wednesday.
"I played every game like it was my last and the game's really hard ... you've got to go all out.
"When I decided that was going to be it, I knew that I had to just buckle in for six weeks and make sure I got the job done."
Selwood and his management spoke to Geelong veterans Patrick Dangerfield, Mitch Duncan, Tom Hawkins and Tom Stewart, as well as club CEO Steve Hocking, before arriving at a decision.
"They all want me to play on. That's not going to be the case," he said.
"I decided I could go probably at 85 per cent next year and everyone would look after me but I had to be all in. I just couldn't do that."
An emotional Scott conceded that while he was sad to see Selwood retire, he's glad the Cats great could go out on top.
“It’s impossible to quantify (what Selwood means to him) – the on-field is impossible to replicate, the off field is impossible to replicate,” Scott said.
“The greatest going out on top – I can’t think of a better way for Joel to finish.”
Scott likened Selwood's time at the club to Geelong winning the "footy lottery" and says his influence on the Cats would leave them in good stead for years to come.
“He was the best representation of the Geelong footy club you could ever imagine,” Scott said.
“We won the footy lottery getting to spend a decade with Joel Selwood.
“It’s just been a privilege for us to get to learn from the great man.”
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