Dual Brownlow medallist Chris Judd called time on his celebrated AFL career, content in the knowledge that he’d given everything he had to the game.
A wrecked knee may have brought an abrupt end to Judd’s storied 279-game career, but he drew the curtain with the same poise and grace that were his trademarks on the field.
A candid Judd spoke eloquently at a packed press conference at Princes Park on Tuesday and admitted he knew almost certainly that his playing days were over as soon as he crashed to the MCG turf clutching his left knee.
“You don’t get to write your ending, but it’s been an incredibly fortunate journey,” Judd said.
“It’s not a magical ending, but still a very special 14 years.”
Judd, 31, tore his anterior cruciate ligament in the first quarter of the Blues’ clash with Adelaide following a marking contest with Crows midfielder Patrick Dangerfield.
He will undergo a knee reconstruction in the next two weeks.
Judd spoke for around 25 minutes on Tuesday with his family watching on, along with his manager Paul Connors, former Blues president Stephen Kernahan, captain Marc Murphy and current president Mark LoGiudice amongst those also in attendance.
The sublimely-talented midfielder contemplated retirement at the end of the 2014 season but having failed to play in a win and suffering a career-ending knee injury this year, he said on reflection he had made the wrong choice to continue.
“Clearly it was the wrong decision to go on,” he said.
“I know some people get tempted in times like this to try and spin everything positively. As it turned out it was the wrong decision, but it was very much made for the right reasons.
“I think if I’d made the wrong decision for the wrong reasons then I’d regret that but my motives were pure and the decision-making process was sound.
“As it turned out it hasn’t been a great year but I’ll certainly be left with no ‘what ifs’.”
Judd underwent reconstructions on both shoulders before the Eagles selected him third overall at the 2001 draft.
He admitted it had been incredibly hard both physically and mentally to get up for games late in his career and he was looking forward to some respite.
“Just to be able to give the body a rest,” he said.
“And, more importantly, enable the mind to stop having to tell the body it has to do this thing which it isn’t really able to do any more – I’m looking forward to that.”
Judd’s voice cracked with emotion as he thanked the Crows supporters in attendance on Saturday for the warm send-off he received as he departed the MCG for the final time on the back of the mini-ambulance.
“It was a really trying time for me as a person, not as a footballer,” he said.
“Just to be shown that level of respect as I was carried off meant a lot.”
Judd will take his time to decide what the future holds for him, although he said that was more likely to involve going into business and almost certainly not a football or media role.
He leaves the Blues struggling on the field with one win from 10 rounds, but is bullish about the team’s prospects.
“I think we’ve bottomed out and the growth is starting to come,” he said.