Scott Selwood, Bryce Selwood, Brit Selwood, Joel Selwood, Maree Selwood, Troy Selwood and Adam Selwood pose for a photo after Joel's retirement announcement on September 28, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

JOEL Selwood knew "about six weeks ago" that he would be hanging up the boots, regardless of how Geelong's finals campaign ended.

Selwood ended his 355-game career in fairytale fashion, retiring after winning his fourth premiership on Saturday, and following in the trend of preceding captains Tom Harley (2009) and Cameron Ling (2011), who hung up the boots after claiming the ultimate prize.

He retires as the longest-serving captain in VFL/AFL history, having taken over from Ling ahead of the 2012 season, and as the Cats' games record holder.


He also broke the record for most VFL/AFL finals played in Saturday's Grand Final, surpassing Michael Tuck's long-standing benchmark of 39.

Selwood said he knew heading into the finals series that these would be the last appearances of his distinguished career, despite several teammates wanting him to play on.

"This is actually probably a little bit easier for me today than probably what most people would think. About six weeks ago I decided that this would be it, that I'd finish my playing days at the Geelong footy club – win, lose or draw come the end of the year," Selwood said on Wednesday afternoon.

BARRETT Why Joel rivals 'Polly' as the greatest Cat

"It was a decision made amongst my manager, who I wanted to catch up with before round 23, we then decided as I got him to ask a few (players) as he's got a few of the current players on the list – Mitch (Duncan), Tom Hawkins, Tom Stewart, over the year to just see how I'm going and if I should move on.

"I then touched base with Paddy Dangerfield obviously to see how he thinks I'm going through background chats and they're as loyal people as you would get. They all want me to play on, but it's not going to be the case."

Joel Selwood after Geelong's win over Sydney in the 2022 Toyota AFL Grand Final. Picture: AFL Photos

Selwood felt that he could have played on into a 17th season, but knew he had to be "all in" if he was to push himself to play on in 2023.

The outgoing Cats midfielder said telling coach Chris Scott he was retiring was "one of the toughest conversations" he's had to have, while keeping it from his teammates until this week so they wouldn't play the decider on emotion.

"Tommy and I decided that we should speak to 'Hock' (Geelong CEO Steve Hocking) and just get his opinion," Selwood said.

"He said the same thing – that it was up to me whether I go on and I decided out of that I could go at probably 85 per cent next year and everyone would look after me.

Joel Selwood announces his retirement during a press conference on September 28, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

"But I had to be all in and I just couldn't do that. I've had such a fun year this year, amongst this playing group, amongst this football club. Home life has been really good. Having a baby come February, which is exciting.

"And from there I had to go in and tell the coach on Friday morning before we played West Coast and I didn't know that 'Hock' hadn't spoken to him so that was one of the toughest conversations I've had to do along with telling a few others.

"But that Friday morning I went in there and basically told him I was OK, I was OK with the decision that I'd come to with 'Hock' and Tommy and he wasn't too sure what I was talking about but I had to explain to him that I wouldn't be continuing on next year.

"Then, Scotty has probably delivered his worst performance of a pre-game speech that I've ever seen, which was quite disappointing because it was Paddy's 300th and I took the moment away from him."

Joel Selwood in action during Geelong's clash with Melbourne in round three, 2007. Picture: AFL Photos

Scott said Selwood was the best player he had ever seen.

"The thing that continually struck me about Joel was his ability to care for others and prioritise others," he 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."

CATS AXE FIVE Sparkling mid among delistings after Grand Final success

Selwood was a star from his first game after being drafted at No.7 in the 2006 NAB AFL Draft, winning the NAB AFL Rising Star award in his first year as the Cats romped to the 2007 premiership. 

He also won flags in 2009 and 2011, but premiership success as captain eluded him until what ended up as his final game, the 2022 decider won in a canter against Sydney. 

Selwood's emotion after kicking a final-quarter goal, which he described as the "best goal he's ever kicked" - and his teammates' jubilant reaction - gave a hint that the Grand Final was to be his last game, but he declined to address his future in the immediate aftermath of the match.


An emotional Selwood reflected on a moment with young gun Sam De Koning during the last quarter of the Grand Final.

"I take you into a moment on the weekend, but I came off in the last quarter, Sam De Koning was on the interchange bench with me on one side, Blitz (Mark Blicavs) was on the other side and Sam just said, 'You can't finish' which is pretty special," he said.

"A 21-year-old kid probably read the moment, Blitz knew I was in a bit of trouble, the heart was racing, the eyes were watering and I knew that I was going out for my last 15 minutes of the game, of my career and, yeah, I am a little bit soft."

Selwood was a six-time All-Australian and was named captain of that team three times. He also won three 'Carji' Greeves medals as Geelong's best and fairest, and finished second in the 2013 Brownlow Medal behind former teammate Gary Ablett.

Selwood's decorated career

AFL games: 355 (W259, L95, D1 - winning percentage 72.96 per cent)
AFL goals: 175
Captaincy: 2012-2022 (245 games)
Career averages: 24.7 disposals, 11.2 contested possessions, 5.1 tackles, 5.2 clearances
Brownlow votes: 214 (No.7 in all-time rankings)
Honours: Premiership player (2007, 2009, 2001, 2022), premiership captain (2022), six-time All-Australian (2009, 2010, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017 - captain, 2013, 2014, 2016), three-time club best and fairest (2010, 2013, 2014), AFL Rising Star (2007)
Records: most AFL finals games (40 - W22, L18), most games as captain (245)