One of the absolute greatest players the modern game has ever seen, Chris Judd has announced his immediate retirement from AFL football this morning, following a severe knee injury suffered this past weekend.

Judd, a now great of both the Carlton and West Coast football clubs, ruptured his ACL during the Blues clash against the Adelaide Crows at the MCG on Saturday afternoon. In a press conference this morning, Judd announced that the injury would bring his storied career to a sad and abrupt close.

“It was a disappointing finish to my career. But I don’t lose sight of how fortunate I’ve been at two clubs.”

“I’d like to firstly thank my Carlton teammates and all those I’ve played alongside. You’ve got me through hard times. To my parents and sister Lauren: to be born into a family as loving and kind as that I feel like I won first division of lottery. To Bec and my kids, there has been plenty of highs and lows but your support has been immeasurable. The Carlton fans have been incredibly generous and kind over the journey. I wish I could have bought you more success. To Adelaide fans as well; to be shown that level of respect as I got carried off the ground was incredible.”

“I couldn’t say it was an easy decision to walk away from something that has been my life’s passion. I knew the end was coming so in that sense it hasn’t been a huge surprise but I guess the suddenness has caught me a bit off guard. I didn’t get carried out on a chariot, but on a medivac. You don’t get to write your own ending.

“It was the wrong decision to play on this year because I’m having a knee reco in two weeks, but my motives were pure.”

“It’s going to be incredibly hard to let football go.”

Judd was taken with the 3rd overall pick of the 2001 AFL Draft – the fabled “superdraft” – by the West Coast Eagles. He played 134 games for the Perth club, notching up a Brownlow Medal in 2004 as a 21 year old, and leading the Eagles to the 2006 Premiership as captain.

Following the end of the 2007 season, Judd sensationally declared his desire to return to his native Melbourne to continue the remainder of his footballing career. Judd was traded by West Coast to Carlton in exchange for key position player Josh Kennedy and a pair of early draft picks that netted the Eagles Chris Masten in the 2007 AFL Draft.

At Princes Park, Judd added another 145 games to his career, finishing on 279. He picked up a second Brownlow Medal in 2010, and captained the Blues from his arrival in 2008 until 2012.

Among the myriad of other accomplishments he achieved during his career, he nabbed two AFLPA MVP awards (2006, 2011), 6 All-Australian selections, 5 club Best & Fairest awards (2 at West Coast, 3 at Carlton), and the rare honour of winning the Norm Smith Medal for best afield in a Grand Final in 2005, despite the Eagles being beaten by the Sydney Swans.

Judd will now undergo a full knee reconstruction and begin his life after football with rehabilitation.

One of the all-time great careers has come to a close. A champion of the game, and one of those rare handful of elite players who always seemed to have 5 seconds more than anyone else. For many years, Judd was the benchmark – and so he shall remain for many years to come.

But as for how he himself wants to be remembered?

“Just a country boy with a heart of gold. But not being from the country will make that hard.”

A wry smirk from a stand-up bloke. You can hardly ask for anything more.

Photo: Quinn Rooney via Getty Images.