Valiant Ablett thanks fans and team

Gary Ablett exits the Gabba with a guard of honour at the 2020 AFL Grand Final. (Chris Hyde/AFL Photos)

By Luke Voogt

All-time Cats great Gary Ablett has thanked fans and teammates after valiantly playing through a broken shoulder in Geelong’s grand final loss to Richmond.

“I’m so incredibly proud of this group and the entire footy club,” Ablett said on Sunday.

“There are many people that I will need to thank for investing into my career, both professionally and personally but [it’s] impossible to make mention of everyone here.”

Ablett played the majority of the game with a fracture in his left shoulder following a tackle by Tigers’ Captain Trent Cotchin in the opening minutes, the AFL confirmed this week.

Scans revealed the break and the now-retired Ablett is set to have a consultation with a surgeon.

Tigers and Cats players alike showed their respect to The Little Master as he left the Gabba on Saturday night.

“Congratulations to Richmond, what an outstanding achievement; you have won your third premiership in the last four years,” 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.”

Ablett was grateful to have been able to play his final season in 2020, especially with COVID-19 almost causing the cancellation of the season several times.

“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!” he said.

“I’m going to miss playing the game that I live and have loved since I was a kid watching my dad [Gary Ablett Senior] play. It has brought me so much joy!

“What a journey it’s been… I’m sorry to all the Geelong Cats supporters that we couldn’t get it done for you last night.

“However, thank you for the way you have cheered us on throughout the 2020 season and through all of its challenges.”

Gary Ablett won two premierships, two Brownlow Medals and a host of other accolades in his 357-game, 445-goal career, cementing his place as one of Geelong’s and the AFL’s all-time greats.

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