Geelong champion Joel Selwood has announced his retirement from the AFL, choosing to end his decorated career on the high of a fourth premiership.
The explosion of emotion from Geelong players when Selwood kicked a fairytale goal in the last quarter of Saturday's grand final win over Sydney had indicated his 355th game was his final appearance.
The 34-year-old took time to weigh up his options before calling time in a press conference at GMHBA Stadium on Wednesday.
"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 told reporters.
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."
Selwood is the third consecutive Geelong captain to retire after winning 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 355 appearances across 16 seasons.
Selwood made a record-breaking 40th finals appearance in the grand final thrashing of the Swans -- one more than Hawthorn legend Michael Tuck.
Geelong coach Chris Scott spent 12 years working closely with Selwood and said the tough midfielder would be "irreplaceable" on and off the field.
Selwood informed Scott of his decision 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."
Earlier this year, Selwood broke Carlton great Stephen Kernahan's long-standing 226-game record for most games as an AFL/VFL club captain and finishes his career with 245 as skipper.
He played his entire career at Geelong after being drafted at pick No.7 in 2006, winning the Rising Star award and a premiership in his first season.
Selwood is a six-time All-Australian, has captained the Cats since 2012, and won three Carji Greeves medals as Geelong's best and fairest.
He has also been hailed for his character and was this year's Jim Stynes community leadership award winner.