PORT Adelaide forward Steven Motlop says he will look back on his AFL career with fondness despite falling agonisingly short of featuring in a Grand Final.
Motlop announced his retirement on Tuesday, effective immediately, following a career that spanned 217 games across 14 seasons.
Remarkably, the 31-year-old played in five losing preliminary finals, three of which came at Geelong (2013, 2016, 2017).
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Motlop arrived at Port Adelaide via free agency at the end of 2017, and he tasted more preliminary final disappointment in 2020 and 2021.
“14 years is a long time in the game, especially in the position I play,” Motlop said of his decision to retire.
“It was always a childhood dream to play in the AFL and I’ll always be grateful to Geelong and to Port Adelaide for giving me the opportunity to achieve that dream.
“As a kid you just want to play in finals. I played in five preliminary finals and while it would have been nice to have won one, playing in those big games alongside my teammates is something I’ll always look back on fondly.”
Motlop has strong family links to Port Adelaide.
His brother Daniel played for six seasons with the Power between 2006-2011, and his cousin Marlon also represented the club between 2008-2011.
“There’s been a rich history of my family playing at Port Adelaide and to be able to get the opportunity come over to Adelaide, where my family was set up, was a big part of why I moved across,” Motlop said.
“It means a lot to say I had the chance to play at the club where I have such strong family links.”
Motlop booted 229 goals across his career – the most famous of which came in the 2018 Showdown against Adelaide when he dodged and weaved through traffic to kick the match-winner from 40m out with just 24 seconds remaining.
Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley was Motlop’s line coach when he first arrived at Geelong in 2009.
Hinkley said beyond Motlop’s skills, speed and work rate, the classy forward had always been a good teammate.
“I was with Steven at the start of his AFL journey and also now at the end,” Hinkley said.
“He has left us with some extremely fond memories with some telling contributions in key moments, but often with Steven his work might have gone unnoticed by many.
“The Motlop name is a strong one at our club. It feels like Steven has been here forever. He has made himself part of the Port Adelaide family, and he always will be.”
Motlop joined Geelong with pick 39 in the 2008 NAB AFL Draft, was nominated as an AFL Rising Star in 2012 and part of the All-Australian squad in 2013.