Cats confirm Stevie J’s last game for Geelong

FINISHED: Steve Johnson at Cats training recently. Picture: Reg Ryan

STEVE Johnson will play his last game for Geelong at Simonds Stadium tomorrow, the Cats have confirmed.
The mercurial star will line-up for his 253rd game alongside fellow departing veterans James Kelly and Matthew Stokes in an emotional day for Geelong against the Adelaide Crows.
But Johnson didn’t rule out playing elsewhere in 2015.
“Playing with Geelong, enjoying the success we have and to have done it alongside so many great team mates and friends over the past 14 years has been a dream come true,” Johnson said.
“I have loved being at this club and want to thank all of my team mates, coaches and staff that have made my time here so much fun. I will miss the people more than anything but know that the club is heading in the right direction and will be hoping they enjoy great success in the future.
“The supporters have always been behind me, even in difficult times, and I want to say thanks to them as well.
“Many people will be asking what I’m doing next year. Once I’ve finished this weekend I’ll be looking at the options available to me within the AFL industry.”
Geelong coach Chris Scott paid tribute to Johnson and his contribution to the club.
“Steve is without doubt one of the greatest players that the club has seen and it is very difficult to see him finish his career with us,” Scott said.
“Steve was one of the players I enjoyed playing against and watching, and in coming here and working with him over the past five years my opinion and respect for him has only grown.
“His ability to change games will live long in all of our memories. There is a reason he is so popular among not only our supporters, but through the whole football community. There has never been a dull moment with Steve on or off the field.
“In the past Steve has discussed the idea of going into coaching, and I think he has the ability, intelligence and temperament to succeed if he chooses to go down that path. We all wish him every success in his future in whatever field he decides to pursue.”
Johnson debuted in round 6, 2002 against the Brisbane Lions at the Gabba. He kicked the first of his 450 career goals that night at the beginning of a stellar career.
Johnson will leave Simonds Stadium ranked equal 12th on the Cats games played list and third on the goal kicking list.
One of the great big time performers in AFL history, Johnson saved some of his best performances for the finals stage. He booted five goals in the 2007 premiership win over Port Adelaide to win the Norm Smith medal, and he kicked four in the grand final win over Collingwood in 2011 after overcoming a serious knee injury that had him in doubt all week.
Johnson’s 23 finals rank equal second in club history and his 38 finals goals are fourth most in Cats history behind just Gary Ablett sr, Billy Brownless and Doug Wade.
Johnson was named an All Australian in 2007, 2008 and 2010, and represented Australia in the international rules series last year. He was twice club leading goal kicker (2008 and 2010) and finished in the top 10 in Brownlow voting in 2013 and 2014. Johnson also represented Victoria in 2008 in the AFL Hall of Fame match at the MCG.
A member of the Cats three premierships in 2007, 2009 and 2011, Johnson’s skills, approach to the game and toughness made him one of the most beloved players in the club’s history.