LANCE Franklin, one of the greatest players in the history of the game, has announced his retirement, effectively immediately.
The 36-year-old informed his teammates on Monday that his decorated career is over.
The news comes after he injured his calf in Saturday night's win over Essendon. Coach John Longmire revealed on Monday that the injury would have likely ruled Franklin out for up to eight weeks.
Franklin confirmed the news with an Instagram post alongside a photo of Alastair Clarkson and John Longmire, his two AFL coaches, after telling his Sydney teammates of his decision to call it quits.
"What a journey. Thanks to everyone who has been on this crazy ride with me," he wrote.
Franklin will finish his career as the fourth-leading goalkicker in VFL/AFL history, behind only Tony Lockett, Gordon Coventry and Jason Dunstall, after he reached the magical 1000-goal barrier last year.
In a remarkable career spanning 19 seasons after being selected at pick No.5 in the 2004 draft, the West Australian talent spearheaded the Hawks to their 2008 premiership triumph when he kicked 113 goals in their flag season – making him the most recent player to hit the 100-goal mark in a season.
He played 182 games and kicked 580 goals with the Hawks between 2005-2013, with his final game for the club coming in its premiership win over Fremantle in that year's Grand Final.
As the biggest ever free agent to move clubs, Franklin was tipped to join Greater Western Sydney at the end of that season but had locked in a deal to move to the Swans on a nine-year, $10 million deal in one of the biggest bombshell player switches the game has seen.
Franklin went on to be a hero of the Swans and New South Wales market, playing 172 games and kicking 486 goals with the club, including featuring in its 2014, 2016 and 2022 Grand Final defeats.
He signed a one-year contract extension last year after the monster nine-year deal expired, playing on into a 10th year in the Harbour City.
He was a seven-time Sydney leading goalkicker after being a six-time leading goalkicker at the Hawks, and was named an All-Australian eight times, the last of which he was named skipper in 2018.
Despite attending the club earlier on Monday to speak with his teammates, Franklin was absent from the media conference where Harley and Longmire confirmed the superstar forward's retirement.
"Everyone would have loved to have Lance available - he just doesn't like these situations," Longmire said.
Longmire and Harley said that Franklin would eventually speak about his retirement.
"Lance is an icon of the AFL and will go down as one of the greatest players to ever play this game," Swans CEO Tom Harley said in a statement.
"Lance has that rare ability to transcend footy and has brought so much joy to fans for more than a decade now.
"He is a champion and will leave a lasting legacy, not only at the Sydney Swans, but within the AFL and broader community.
"We wish him, Jesinta, Tallulah and Rocky all the very best for the future. They will always hold a close place in the heart of our club."
Swans coach John Longmire labelled Franklin "the greatest forward of his generation".
"He is an absolute freak of nature and we have been lucky enough to have front row seats to one of the best ever to play," he said.
"He is a massive competitor and a wonderful teammate. Lance is also an extremely private and humble champion, which makes him even more endearing to those who know him.
"After coming to the Swans as a 26-year-old in the prime of his life, he leaves as one of our most loved players to run out in the red and white. He is an out and out champion and we wish him and his family all the very best for the future."
Clarkson, who coached Franklin at Hawthorn for the first 182 games of his career, said he had been "privileged" to guide the career of one of the game's greatest.
"It’s quite unique that over a twenty year career, Bud only had two coaches," Clarkson said.
"It speaks of his loyalty, dedication and mateship that he retires an icon of the game, and a hero of two clubs that he helped make great in his time at each.
"His feats as a player are extraordinary, and this has run parallel to his emergence as a great husband, father and mate.
"He is selfless, humble, loyal and proud.
"He has set a current day watermark that I believe will be unsurpassed, and the game will miss his theatre and drawing power.
"I feel privileged to share some of his journey. I know his Hawks teammates feel exactly the same."
- with AAP
Lance Franklin - The key numbers
All-Australian: 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018
Coleman Medal: 2008, 2011, 2014, 2017
Hawthorn leading goalkicker: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012
Sydney leading goalkicker: 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2021, 2022
Hawthorn best and fairest: 2008