Growing up, I only knew ‘Buddy’ Franklin as a superstar of the game.
When he came to Sydney ahead of the 2014 season I was stoked to have him on-board.
He was shy at the start but once you get to know him he’s an incredibly humble and funny bloke.
Buddy has developed great relationships with everyone at the club, from the younger to the older guys on the list.
In his six years with the Swans, he has brought so much to the club but one of the most important and outstanding qualities is his presence.
The impact he’s been able to have on football in Sydney cannot be understated – his marketability has been huge for the game and our supporters.
But, it’s also what he brings to the field.
He’s one of the most competitive people I’ve ever seen and you know he’s going to give it his all each week. That’s where his superstar status stems from.
He’s as hard working as he is talented and that’s how he finds a way to beat the best defenders week in, week out.
I’ve seen him push through some incredible injuries and to see him perform the way he does just blows my mind at times.
There are so many highlights from his career and moments where you’re just thinking, ‘this is why he is the player he is’, but one moment that stands out was against Port Adelaide in 2014.
Buddy had 23 touches and kicked five goals for a come-from-behind win.
His actions on the field that day got us over the line.
There aren’t many players who can turn a whole game for a team but he consistently finds a way.
That day he put his own stamp on the game and it was clear why he is that player and the value he holds.
As a player, his main asset is the fact he hates losing – whether that’s a one-on-one contest or a game.
Knowing how passionate and invested he is, is why he is the player we’ve come to know and love.
Buddy not only stands up in big moments, but he’s confident too.
Time and time again he’s been able to pull us out of games where the result could have potentially gone the other way.
Despite the challenges, he comes in with a great energy and mindset each day, striving to get better.
Given his injuries, Buddy has turned his focus to a leadership role this season and has focused on building strong connections with the young boys – they feed off every single word he says.
His want to develop his teammates and support them in becoming the best players and people they can be is what makes him such a valuable member of our club.
It’s been a frustrating year for Buddy, being struck down with injury and unable to train but to be able to celebrate him and recognise other important, outgoing senior players at the Swans this weekend (Jarrad McVeigh, Nick Smith, Kieren Jack and Heath Grundy) will make this an important Round 23 game.
It’s been a privilege to play alongside him and call him a mate.
He’s the greatest I’ve ever played with.