Retiring champion Gary Ablett has apologised to Geelong supporters for failing to deliver them the AFL premiership in his final match.
Ablett made his 357th and last appearance in Saturday night's Gabba grand final, but had his dreams of a fairytale flag send-off dashed by rampant Richmond.
The 36-year-old suffered a suspected fracture to his left shoulder in a tackle during the opening five minutes and was clearly hindered by the injury throughout the match, finishing with 12 disposals.
He was given a guard of honour by Geelong and Richmond players - who paused their premiership celebrations to send him off - as he walked off the ground.
The disappointing end came on the back of a difficult year for Ablett, during which his young son Levi was diagnosed with a rare degenerative disease and wife Jordan lost her mother to cancer.
Ablett took to Instagram on Sunday to post a farewell message.
"What a journey it's been ... I'm sorry to all the @geelongcats supporters that we couldn't get it done for you last night," Ablett said.
"However, thank you for the way you have cheered us on throughout the 2020 season and through all of its challenges.
"I'm so incredibly proud of this group and the entire footy club.
"You have all, (including everyone involved in the @afl ) put so much of your time, energy and heart into making this season go ahead. THANK YOU!"
Ablett Jnr, the son of Geelong legend Gary Ablett Snr, was recruited under the father-son rule in 2001 and played 247 games for the Cats over two stints, either side of his seven years as the face of expansion club Gold Coast.
He exceeded the great expectations that followed him from an early age, winning the Brownlow Medal in 2009 and 2013 and being a central figure in Geelong's 2007 and 2009 premiership teams.
"I'm going to miss playing the game that I love and have loved since I was a kid watching my Dad play," Ablett said.
"It has brought me so much joy!" Ablett also paid tribute to winners Richmond and thanked his family.
"Congratulations to @richmond_fc what an outstanding achievement to have won your third premiership in the last four years. Well done!" Ablett said.
"I also just want to thank you very much for pausing your celebrations last night to send me off with a guard of honour.
"Lastly to my family, there's no way I could have achieved what I have without your constant love, encouragement and support ... I'm looking forward to what's to come for our family."