Lance Franklin celebrates a goal during the R18 match between Sydney and the Western Bulldogs at the SCG on July 13, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

The AFL today congratulated Lance Franklin on his extraordinary career, saying the game had never seen a player like him.

Buddy announced his immediate retirement today, finishing his AFL career with Hawthorn and the Sydney Swans on 1066 goals from 354 games – the fourth-highest tally in VFL/AFL history.

A dual premiership player, Franklin sits inside the top-20 for games' played and retires as just one of five players to have been named as an All Australian in eight separate seasons.

AFL Commission Chair Richard Goyder today said it had been a privilege to be able to watch Franklin play, with his extraordinary mix of skill, pace, power and on-field presence.

“Buddy Franklin was unlike any player we had seen before and he has given our fans thousands of moments that will stay with us for as long as we watch and talk about footy,” Mr Goyder said.

“From the time he announced himself in the 2007 finals' series, he was the dominant forward in the game for the next 15 years and was THE player to watch in any game where he took the field.

“He kicked the most extraordinary goals, ran like the wind, terrorised opposition defenders and left us all gasping at some of the things he did – usually at the key moment to decide a match.

“We thank him and congratulate him on an extraordinary career at both Hawthorn and the Sydney Swans and wish for a happy retirement for he and Jesinta and their children.”

Lance Franklin with his teammates after the superstar forward announced his retirement on July 31, 2023. Picture: Phil Hillyard

AFL Chief Executive Gillon McLachlan said it was impossible to think of only a few signature moments for the great forward, when he had electrified the competition for so long with his irresistible combination of gifts that he used to the absolute maximum.

“The sight of Buddy sprinting on goal, with at least 2-3 defenders in his wake, would bring a crowd to its feet in seconds and he had the champion’s ability to seize the moment and bend a match to his will.

“The game had never seen a big man be able to do what he could do as a forward, and he would dominate games over and over again, usually with a lethal left foot from outside 50 metres, or threading a major from the boundary, or sprinting towards goal with a couple of hapless defenders battling along behind him.

“He was the player that dragged people through the gates wherever he went and has been a hero for a generation of fans,” Mr McLachlan said.

McLachlan said the one memory that would perhaps stand above all was the spontaneous joy around the game when he kicked his 1000th goal at AFL level against Geelong at the SCG early last season, prompting a euphoric ground invasion.

"The night that Buddy kicked 1000 was a celebration of everything we love in the game and perhaps the best moment in footy this century," McLachlan said.

"He’s been unbelievable, we will miss him terribly but we have the most amazing memories of his contribution to footy. We salute him on behalf of every fan.”

Lance Franklin and Tom Papley celebrate after the R19 match between Sydney and Fremantle at Optus Stadium on July 22, 2023. Picture: Getty Images/AFL Photos

Franklin’s full footy CV is below with his honours including premierships, multiple All Australian representation, a club best and fairest and Life Membership of the AFL.

Lance Franklin: 

  • Pick five in the 2004 National Draft 
  • Debuted for Hawthorn in 2005 Round One vs Sydney Swans 
  • 182 games, 580 goals for Hawthorn 2005-13 
  • 172 games, 486 goals for Sydney 2014- 23
  • Sits among top 20 VFL/AFL players for games' played, and third-most by an Indigenous player behind Shaun Burgoyne (407) and Adam Goodes (372).
  • Two-time premiership player (2008 and 2013)
  • Four-time Coleman medallist (2008, 2011, 2014, 2017) 
  • 13-time leading goal kicker for his club (six times at Hawthorn 2007, ‘08, ‘09, ‘10, ‘11, ‘12 and Seven at Sydney 2014, ‘15, ‘16, ‘17, ‘18, ‘21, ‘22) 
  • AFL Goal of the Year in 2010 and 2013 
  • Hawthorn Best and Fairest in 2008
  • The most recent player to kick 100 goals in a season – 113 goals in 2008
  • Eight time All Australian - 2008, ‘10, ‘11, ‘12, ‘14, ‘16, ‘17, ’18 (captain)
  • One of five players to have been named in eight AFL All Australian teams, joining Gary Ablett junior, Patrick Dangerfield, Robert Harvey & Mark Ricciuto 
  • 1066 goals, the fourth most in VFL/AFL history behind Tony Lockett (1532), Gordon Coventry (1299) and Jason Dunstall (1254)
  • Kicked 74 goals in VFL/AFL finals, third  most behind Gordon Coventry (111) and Jason Dunstall (78)