Goodes’ heartbreaking confession to Anh Do
FORMER Sydney Swans superstar Adam Goodes has opened up on the roughest patch of his decorated AFL career in a tell-all interview with Aussie comedian and artist Anh Do.
Drafted to Sydney as a 17-year-old from South Australia, Goodes rose from a plucky young ruckman into one of the Swans' most revered players, helping claim two premierships including the club's drought-breaking win in 2005, their first in 72 years.
In 2006, Goodes became just the 12th man in AFL history to claim two Brownlow Medals after another glittering season for the Swans. Only until late in his career did he experience one of the ugliest moments he ever endured on a footy field.
Goodes was labelled an "ape" by a Collingwood supporter at the MCG during the 2013 Indigenous round, sparking a storm of controversy in the media as the AFL clamped down on racial abuse within the league.
The supporter who shouted abuse was later identified as a 13-year-old girl, who phoned a shattered Goodes after the match to apologise.
"It was gut-wrenching," the 38-year-old told Do on his ABC program Anh's Brush With Fame. A famous photo of Goodes pointing to the young girl after asking security to remove her from the ground littered the Australian media in the explosive fallout.
The former Swans utility told Do he went back to the Swans sheds and cried, declaring the experience felt like travelling back in time.
"It's a snapshot into a past where people only see us as animals, as primitive beings that people think are lower than a dog," he said. "That's where it sort of hit me. I came off (the ground) and just broke down. I just couldn't believe someone so young could call me that. I knew she didn't know what it actually meant to call someone an ape and she was probably copying people in the crowd around her (but) it just cut me down."
Goodes took a swipe at Collingwood boss and radio host Eddie McGuire, who threw petrol on the fire sparked by the young Magpies fan. Goodes said McGuire came into the dressing room after the racism controversy to shake his hand, assuring him his club was doing all it could to stamp out further abuse from its fans.
Days later, McGuire shockingly suggested Goodes should be brought down to Melbourne to promote the premiere of King Kong in an on-air joke gone awry.
"I was like, really? Is this really happening?" a dejected Goodes revealed. "For me it emphasised how we need to have more conversations about what racism is in this country. The microphone had fallen at my feet and I was happy to pick it up."
Goodes became the target of relentless booing from AFL crowds throughout the 2014 season. The shattered star admitted he thought the off-season following the Swans' Grand Final loss to Hawthorn would allow the heat to die off. He was wrong.
Booing from the crowd continued from round one in 2015 - Goodes' final season in the AFL. When time came for the season's Indigenous round, the outgoing Swans star prepared a celebratory Indigenous dance with Lewis Jetta to perform after one of them kicked a goal.
He described dancing in front of the opposition after booting a clean goal from the pocket as "the perfect moment".
Toward the end of his playing days, an under-appreciated Goodes revealed the footy field became "a place I didn't want to go".
But despite copping vicious backlash from fans following his war dance, Goodes insisted he wasn't bullied out of the game. He retired after Sydney's semi-final loss to North Melbourne, finishing his 372-game career with 464 goals next to his name.
"It was my choice. I wasn't pushed out the door. Injuries weren't the reason why I retired. I retired on my own terms," he said.
Goodes has his eyes set to the future for Australian sport with a hope football codes around the country can implement a similar Indigenous war dance - akin to New Zealand's Haka - in coming events like the Rugby World Cup in 2019.
When asked for his one piece of advice for Indigenous kids growing up in Australia, Goodes replied with optimism.
"The world that is being created around them is a lot different to the world 40 years ago (and) the best thing they can do is get a good education because the opportunities are going to be endless for them," he said.
"We're going to be looking back in 10 years' time and kids in university are going to be completely colourblind and will look back at us going 'what were you guys thinking?'"
Adam Goodes' full interview with Anh Do airs Wednesday night at 8pm on ABC.