10 Best AFL Players of All Time: Legends of the Game

Australian Rules Football (AFL) has witnessed the rise of numerous extraordinary talents, but these 10 players stand as the indisputable legends of the game. Their impact transcends statistics; it’s a testament to their extraordinary skills, dedication, and longevity in the sport.

1. Leigh Matthews: Nicknamed “Lethal,” Leigh Matthews was an unstoppable force on the field. His career spanned from 1969 to 1985, predominantly with the Hawthorn Football Club. Matthews was a four-time premiership player, known for his unmatched ability to read the game and dominate as both a midfielder and forward. He won four Hawthorn best and fairest awards, was a five-time All-Australian, and remains one of the sport’s greatest figures.

2. Gary Ablett Sr.: “God” Gary Ablett was a football phenomenon. His career with Geelong and later the Gold Coast Suns saw him score over 1,000 career goals, a feat unmatched in the modern era. Ablett won two Brownlow Medals, was an eight-time All-Australian, and his electrifying skills, incredible goal sense, and unrivaled ability to mark the ball make him a true AFL icon.

3. Wayne Carey: “The King” Wayne Carey was an imposing force for North Melbourne and later Adelaide. He won two premierships with North Melbourne and was a two-time Brownlow Medalist. Carey’s strength, skill, and ability to take a contested mark made him one of the greatest forwards in AFL history.

4. Ted Whitten: Ted Whitten, affectionately known as “Mr. Football,” is an enduring icon of the game. Spending his entire career with the Western Bulldogs, he earned ten All-Australian selections and four best and fairest awards. Whitten’s passion, leadership, and exceptional skills endeared him to fans and solidified his status as a true legend.

5. Kevin Bartlett: Kevin Bartlett, or “KB,” was synonymous with Richmond Football Club. His career included four premierships and five Norm Smith Medals. Bartlett’s remarkable speed, precision, and goal-kicking ability set him apart as one of the most influential players in AFL history.

6. Dick Reynolds: Dick Reynolds was an Essendon legend, achieving great success both as a player and coach. He secured three Brownlow Medals and played a pivotal role in Essendon’s four premierships. Reynolds’ exceptional skills, leadership, and versatility on the field made him a dominant force in the AFL’s formative years.

7. Michael Tuck: Michael Tuck’s legacy is built on an extraordinary achievement – the most AFL games played, with 426 appearances for Hawthorn. His endurance, versatility, and leadership were instrumental in Hawthorn’s golden era, resulting in seven premierships during his illustrious career.

8. Robert Harvey: Robert Harvey, known for his silky skills and prolific ball-winning ability, was a St Kilda legend. He won two Brownlow Medals and was named All-Australian eight times. Harvey’s remarkable consistency and ability to influence games made him one of the most respected midfielders in AFL history.

9. Ron Barassi: Ron Barassi’s legacy extends beyond his playing days. As a player, he won six premierships with Melbourne and Carlton and earned seven All-Australian selections. However, it’s his impact as a coach and innovator that cements his status as an AFL icon.

10. Jason Dunstall: Jason Dunstall was a goal-kicking machine for Hawthorn. His incredible tally of 1,254 career goals places him among the all-time greats. Dunstall’s precision in front of goal and his ability to dominate opposition defenses make him an enduring figure in AFL history.

These 10 players are the embodiment of AFL excellence. Their contributions, both on and off the field, have left an indelible mark on the sport, inspiring generations of footballers and captivating fans with their extraordinary skills and unwavering commitment to the game.


Who is the AFL player with the most career goals?

The player with the most career goals in AFL history is Tony Lockett, often referred to as “Plugger.” Lockett scored an astounding 1,360 goals during his career, playing primarily for St Kilda and Sydney.

Who holds the record for the most career points in the AFL?

The record for the most career points (goals plus behinds) in the AFL is also held by Tony Lockett. His total career points stand at 2,136, a testament to his incredible scoring ability.

Which player has won the most AFL premierships?

Michael Tuck, who spent his entire career with Hawthorn, holds the record for the most AFL premierships won by a player. Tuck was part of the Hawthorn team that secured an incredible seven premierships during his career.

Who are some of the best AFL players without a premiership?

While premierships are a significant measure of success in the AFL, some legendary players have not had the opportunity to win one. Some notable players in this category include Gary Ablett Sr., who achieved immense individual success, and Nick Riewoldt, who was a beloved figure at St Kilda.

Who is considered the greatest AFL player of all time?

The title of the greatest AFL player of all time is subjective and often sparks passionate debate among fans. Players like Leigh Matthews, Gary Ablett Sr., and Wayne Carey are frequently mentioned in these discussions. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preferences and the era in which a fan grew up.

Are there any active players who could challenge these records?

As of my last knowledge update in September 2021, there were no active players close to challenging records like Tony Lockett’s career goal tally. However, the AFL is continually evolving, and new talents emerge regularly. It’s possible that in the future, a player may rise to challenge these records.

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