It says a lot about Joel Selwood as a person that Geelong coach Chris Scott chose to reflect more on his selflessness than his career achievements after the Cats skipper announced his retirement on Wednesday.
Selwood’s decorated career across a Geelong-record 355 senior matches includes almost every achievement an AFL player could enjoy: four premierships, six All-Australian selections (including three as captain), three club best and fairest awards and a Rising Star nod to name just a few.
Captaining the Cats to their 10th premiership this season simply added icing to the cake.
But as impressive as the accolades are, Scott offered greater praise for Selwood’s show of character during his 16 seasons with the Cats.
He felt working with Selwood was like winning the “footy lottery” for the team.
“The thing that continually struck me about Joel was his ability to care for others and prioritize others,” Scott said at Wednesday’s media conference announcing Selwood’s retirement.
According to Scott, this shone through on the eve of the Cats’ finals campaign, when Selwood chose not to publicly announce his decision to withdraw, despite having made up his mind six weeks ago.
“Even when the opportunity came to him to take a bit of the limelight, his priority was to make sure his decision didn’t negatively impact anyone else,” Scott said.
“He spoke really well … to the rest of the playing group around the need to keep [the decision] from everyone so they could prioritize the team performance going into a finals series.”
Scott has now won two premierships as a coach, which sit alongside the pair of flags he won as a player with the Brisbane Lions.
Throughout his career in Australian rules football, Scott has shown he is not fond of hyperbole, which is why his summation of where Selwood stands in AFL and Cats history is worth noting.
“In my consideration opinion … when you take everything into he is the best player I’ve ever seen and the best representative of the Geelong footy club that you could possible imagine,” he said.
‘Unbeatable at the moment’
While Selwood did afford himself the opportunity to look back over his career during Wednesday’s media conference, he still made sure the best interests of the Geelong Football Club were at the forefront of his mind.
He will miss playing for the Cats, but he knows they have to forge a future without his inspirational leadership.
“There’s just so much good footy in front of these guys and they’re doing it with ease and they’re doing it together and they’re loving playing with each other,” Selwood said.
“The magic potion, everyone’s looking for it, but it’s not always easy to do what they’re doing.
“They are basically unbeatable at the moment.”
Selwood also had some comforting advice for whoever faces the daunting task of replacing him as the Cats skipper.
“Have fun. Have fun,” he said.
Selwood is the third consecutive Geelong captain to retire after winning the premiership, following in the footsteps of Tom Harley (2009) and Cameron Ling (2011).
He is the only Cats player to win four flags and holds the VFL/AFL record for most final appearances.