Having already told his teammates of his intentions, Franklin shared the surprise announcement on Monday via Instagram. Having clocked up an incredible 19 seasons, which has seen him play 354 games, the 36-year-old Franklin – whose real name is Lance – stated that he “exhausted every last inch out of his mind and body”.
According to The Age, the reason behind Franklin’s announcement is linked to a calf injury sustained during a match against Essendon at Marvel Stadium on Saturday night. Franklin was advised that recovery would take six to eight weeks to recover, effectively knocking him out of the rest of the season.
While not exactly the most heroic exit that most elite athletes might dream of, Franklin leaves the game a legend and one of the greatest players of all time. Regarded as one of the best forwards of his generation, Franklin’s legacy is long and enviable. His most recent achievement, his 1000th goal which he booted for the Sydney Swans, saw fans storm the field mid-game to celebrate.
Since 2005, Franklin has had the honour of being his club’s leading goalkicker 13 times: six times at Hawthorn and seven at Sydney. He’s also been the most recent player to kick 100 games in a season, achieving 113 back in 2008.
Even though Franklin began his professional AFL career playing for Hawthorn Hawks with whom he won two premierships (2008 and 2013), it was with the Swans that he found his home.
In a statement about Franklin’s departure from the AFL, Sydney Swans senior coach John Longmire heaped praise and thanks on the football star. “Lance Franklin has been a wonderful player with this football club and in my opinion is the greatest forward of his generation,” Longmire said.
“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 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.”