Main content

Swans to pay tribute to departing O'Keefe

The very best of Ryan O'Keefe Watch the brilliant showreel of one of the Sydney Swans' modern greats
Ryan O'Keefe of the Swans in action during the 2013 AFL Round 15 match between the Melbourne Demons and the Sydney Swans at the MCG, Melbourne on July 07, 2013. (Photo: Michael Willson/AFL Media)
Swans veteran Ryan O'Keefe will feature in a lap of honour at half-time on Saturday
The fire is in the belly and I love playing
Ryan O'Keefe on the prospect of playing on elsewhere next season
RYAN O'Keefe feels he still has something to offer the AFL in a playing capacity after bidding farewell to the Sydney Swans on Thursday.

O'Keefe hasn't featured in the Swans' senior team since round four this year and spoke to the club last week about the chance to say farewell before the season comes to a close.

The winner of two flags, a Norm Smith medal, a best and fairest award and an All Australian jumper, O'Keefe will now do a lap of honour at half-time of Saturday's clash with Richmond.

There is no doubt he would much prefer to be on the field adding to his 286-career games, and he was asked on Thursday if he felt he had something to offer another club in a playing capacity next year.


O'Keefe is yet to decide if he will play on, but the super-fit midfielder still clearly feels he could contribute at senior level.

"I think so. The fire is in the belly and I love playing," he said.

"But what will happen will happen. I'm not too concerned about that.

"I just want to thank everyone after being here at the Swans for such a long time and how it has shaped me and moulded me."

Fourth on the Swans' all-time games played list behind Adam Goodes, Jude Bolton and Michael O'Loughlin, O'Keefe played the first four matches of the season in the seniors before being dropped.

There had been some controversy before the season when it emerged O'Keefe wouldn't be in the team for round one.

An injury to Kieren Jack gave him a reprieve for the season-opening game against the Giants, but it became clear during the year that he had fallen well behind some younger teammates in the pecking order.

Back in 2008, O'Keefe explored the possibility of returning home to Melbourne and joining Hawthorn, but a deal couldn't be struck.

O'Keefe, who has two young children, now needs to decide the best choice for his future, which could include moving into the coaching ranks.

"I think the most important thing is my family and to sit down and see what's best or what is next," he said.

"It's the whole next stage of my life to really think about.

"That'll be a family discussion."

O'Keefe is also passionate about food and has hosted his own cooking show on YouTube and featured on television show Master Chef, but he won't be pursuing that career.

"No, there's no money in restaurants," he said.

"I love footy, I love the whole team aspect and the competitiveness.

"I really enjoy it, so hopefully I can stay involved.

Swans coach John Longmire sat alongside O'Keefe in Thursday's media conference, while a number of his current and former teammates were also in the room, including Goodes and Bolton.

Longmire and O'Keefe haven't always seen eye-to-eye this year over his lack of senior football, but the coach was glowing in his praise for a career that began via the 1999 national draft.

"You try to get that balance right as much as you can," Longmire said.

"Jude was one of the ones who got to the end of his career in the seniors and retired, but it doesn't always work that way.

"But that doesn't diminish the impact a player like Ryan has had on this football club.

"He's been here 15 years and has been one of the best players in the competition for a long period of time and one of the stars of this organisation.

"This year he's worked with our younger players and embraced that and he's going to keep playing in the reserves, which is a fantastic effort.

"He'll do his best to help the team win, which is what he's always done."

RYAN O'KEEFE
Age: 33
Games played: 286 (fourth all-time for the Swans)
 
Achievements:
Premierships: Two (2005, 2012).
Norm Smith Medal 2012
All Australian 2006
Best and fairest 2009
International Rules Series 2005, 2006
Swans best player in finals 2012
Career Brownlow Medal votes: 77