After 19 seasons in the AFL, future hall of famer Lance 'Buddy' Franklin has finally decided to hang up his boots, announcing his retirement on Monday, effective immediately.
Franklin's retirement closes out a storied AFL career that includes four Coleman Medals, two AFL premierships, eight All-Australian selections, 13 club-leading goalkicker awards, 1066 career goals and 354 games in the AFL.
One individual that has had many memorable battles with Lance Franklin over the years, which included the 2008 Grand Final - Buddy's first premiership victory - is Sydney Swans CEO and former Geelong Cats skipper Tom Harley.
With Harley representing the Cats and Franklin representing the Hawks, the battles between the two Victorian teams during this century will go down in history as some of the best encounters in recent history. The two clubs never failed to put on a show and produced many memorable moments in both the home and away season and finals series.
Speaking at a press conference on Monday, Harley was asked by Zero Hanger what it was like playing against Franklin, who was still with Hawthorn at the time. Reminiscing on the battles between the two nearly 20 years ago, Harley also revealed what the two-time Hawthorn premiership winner told him in the sheds on Saturday night.
"I had a chat to him after the game in the rooms on Saturday night, and I said, how's your calf? And he said to me, 'Just like your hamstring was when I played on you'. I actually did chase him once and tore my hamstring," Harley said.
"It's been an absolute privilege to see him up close and personal, and what I've loved from a playing (perspective is) he was next level.
"He was the last player to kick 100 goals, I think it was in 2008, but when you move out of playing, whether it's in the coaching or support staff like I've been, you get to see players through a different light, and he was a better player than I thought he was.
"Ironically, you come up against him maybe twice a year, but then you see him day in, day out, and it's not a stretch to say he's certainly the generation forward of our time and arguably the generational player of our time."
Longmire has coached Franklin since the Western Australian sharpshooter joined the Swans as a 26-year-old from the Hawks, and the combination between the two has seen the Harbour City side become one of the best clubs in the AFL through the 2010s and 2020s.
"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," the premiership coach 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."