Tributes from fans, current players, and administrators have been pouring in to Sea Eagles headquarters following the sudden announcement this morning by Jamie Lyon to retire at the end of this season.
What started out as a routine media session for Lyon quickly turned into a major spectacle with Lyon dropping the bombshell to end his illustrious career with the Sea Eagles.
Lyon made his debut for Manly against the Canberra Raiders at Brookvale Oval in the opening round of the 2007 season and went on to play in four grand finals, winning premierships in 2008 and 2011. He has played 215 games for Manly.
Lyon has also played 285 matches in the NRL after a previous stint with the Parramatta Eels.
Manly Warringah CEO Joe Kelly said the tributes are testament to the popularity of Lyon.
“Jamie’s decision to retire has had an amazing reaction from not only Manly Members and fans, but the rugby league community in a salute to not only Jamie Lyon the champion footballer, but Jamie Lyon the champion person,’’ Mr Kelly said.
“He is an ornament to the game and history will record Jamie as one of Manly’s greatest ever players.
“Jamie informed his team-mates of his decision before the game against Newcastle on Monday and they vowed to deliver a victory out of respect for their inspirational captain.
“For Wee Waa Panthers, Parramatta Eels, St Helens, Manly, NSW and Australia, Jamie Lyon has always delivered with skill, style and humility.
“The Club considers Jamie to be a special person and we will explore all endeavours to keep him involved with the Sea Eagles in some capacity as he has expressed an interest to remain on the Northern Beaches with his wife Ellie and children Riley, Jed and Ava."
Manly Warringah Sea Eagles Chairman Scott Penn congratulated Jamie on a stellar career.
“Jamie Lyon will retire at the top of his game at the end of the 2016 season as one of the greatest and most loved players in Manly's proud 70 year history,’’ Mr Penn said.
"He is every young boy's dream come true - a boy from a small country town who became a champion in the game he loved.
"Last Monday he topped 1500 career points in the NRL in his 285th game. Only the great players achieve that.
"Jamie's decision to quietly announce his retirement on his own terms is typical of his humble nature.
"We celebrated Jamie's induction as a Sea Eagles Life Member at our Season Launch and look forward to him leading the side into another NRL Finals campaign.
"We can't thank Jamie enough for his contribution to our success over the past decade including four Grand Finals and two Premierships. We look forward to sending Jamie off in style and giving our Members and fans the chance to cherish every single minute he has left with the club he loves.”
Team-mates rallied around their skipper once the announcement was made to the media and all spoke glowingly of his popularity and leadership qualities.
Manly Sea Eagles Coach Trent Barrett said Lyon deserved the accolades he was receiving.
“As an opponent who played against him, as a NSW team-mate of his, and to now be able to get the opportunity to coach him is a real privilege on my part. He will go down as one of the true greats of the game and a legend of this Club,’’ Barrett said.
Long-time centre partner Steve Matai described ‘Killer’ as a champion bloke.
“He is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met, one of the best players I’ve ever played with,’’ Matai said.
“I’m just honoured, happy and blessed to be ‘Killer’s’ centre partner for the past 10 years. I’m very grateful.
“His decision to retire gives us more motivation to send him out the best way we know how, that’s by winning and hopefully giving him a premiership ring to walk away with to go along with his other two.”
Manly: 215 games, 84 tries, 512 goals, 1360 points.
NRL Career: 285 games, 120 tries, 512 goals, 1504 points.