Adam Goodes has revealed why he’s “glad” a young fan racially abused him and opened up on the moment he knew he had to quit the AFL.

In one of the AFL’s darkest chapters, Adam Goodes can still see some light.

The Sydney Swans champion was a victim of racism when he was booed out the game in 2015, causing him to fall out of love with the sport he’d dominated for so many years.

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He refused to take part in the grand final lap of honour for retirees that year and back in June, knocked back an offer to be inducted into the Australian Football Hall of Fame.

The catalyst for the shameful treatment of Goodes came in 2013, when he pointed out a 13-year-old girl in the stands who racially vilified him during a game against Collingwood.

But despite the sad fallout from that incident and the way his career ended, Goodes has no regrets about taking a stand because it prompted an important conversation about racism in Australia.

“I believe everything happens for a reason,” Goodes said in an episode of the What Matters podcast, co-hosted by Swans chairman Andrew Pridham.

“I’m glad that 13-year-old girl called me an ape that night because it has ended … up to where we are today. Now I feel like we’re in a place today that five years ago we probably might not have been as a nation.

“The way we’re talking about racism, the way our kids in school are educating us about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people — there is a true and real empathy for Indigenous people and culture, I feel, at the moment.”

A two-time premiership winner and dual Brownlow Medallist, Goodes deserved to be celebrated as an AFL legend when his career came to an end. Instead, he retired without fanfare as the booing saga took its toll, and the 41-year-old has largely remained out of the football spotlight ever since.

The booing ramped up after performing an Indigenous dance against Carlton in 2015, and a match against West Coast in Perth later that season confirmed to Goodes it was time to walk away, which he did when the Swans were knocked out of the finals by North Melbourne.

“It was just horrible over there and that’s where it all just hit me — that this is going to be my last year of football,” Goodes said.

“I’m going to be booed all the way to the end, the final end. It just hit me. I just couldn’t fathom that would be the end of my career.

“I was happy to call it quits after that elimination final against North Melbourne.

“It just took a complete weight off my shoulders, and that weight was having to go to work for two hours and put up with that s**t that was happening; that I couldn’t pinpoint who it was, I couldn’t see their faces, but it was just happening around me in my work environment.

“It doesn’t happen today. It doesn’t happen on the streets, never did.”

The AFL belatedly apologised in 2019 for not doing enough to support Goodes and failing to call out the racism he was forced to deal with.

Originally published as Adam Goodes ‘glad’ he was called an ‘ape’ vs Collingwood

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By Isak

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